Sri Lanka won their first Test series in three years after the third and final match against Pakistan ended in a thrilling draw in Pallekele yesterday.
The hosts made a brave bid to chase down a target of 270, reaching 132 for two by tea on the fifth day, before they were pegged back by a three-wicket burst from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Dinesh Chandimal scored 65 and the prolific Kumar Sangakkara returned unbeaten on 74 as Sri Lanka made 195 for four before the game was called off with nine overs remaining.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this series win,” said Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene.
“It’s not that we did not play good cricket earlier, but somehow the results did not show that. So it was important to win against a quality side like Pakistan. It will make the youngsters more confident about their game, but we need to keep improving as a unit.”
Jayawardene defended his decision to give up the chase after the fall of the fourth wicket, saying it was not worth risking the 1-0 lead they had in the series.
“The mindset was to win, but it was only in the last hour-and-a-half that we decided to close shop.”
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq said he was surprised when Sri Lanka abandoned the chase, but conceded that getting 270 runs in 71 overs would not have been easy.
“I thought we were safe when we gave them a big target, but they started really well and it got us worried a bit,” said Misbah. “But I was surprised when they gave up in the end.”
Misbah said the 1-0 loss was not a fair result since his team could have won both the last two Tests, but preferred to dwell on the positives.
“A loss is a loss, but we were unlucky not to win a game. I’m happy with the way the team bounced back after the loss in Galle. We have real good talent in the side like Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Junaid Khan. But if there is an area we need to improve, it’s our fielding and catching.”
Sangakkara, who made an unbeaten 199 in the first Test and 192 in the second, was named the player of the series.
Shafiq was adjudged the man of the match for his top-score of 75 in the first-innings and an unbeaten century in the second.
“It was challenging,” said Shafiq. “I had to build a partnership and I would like to thank Adnan Akmal for the way he played.”
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq
“We have real good talent in the side like Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Junaid Khan. But if there is an area we need to improve for the future, it’s our fielding and catching. ”
Sri Lanka captain M Jayawardene
“It was important to win against a quality side like Pakistan. It will make the youngsters more confident but we need to keep improving as a unit.”
Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq
“It was challenging innings for me. I had to build a partnership with the lower order and I would like to thank Adnan the way he played and supported me out there.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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