KARACHI: An incredible overdose of Pak-Lanka encounters across all formats in recent years has somewhat compensated for the shrinking number of international fixtures for Pakistan.
Sri Lanka have had the clear upper-hand across all three formats over Pakistan during this time.
Before 2009, Pakistan had an impeccable record in Sri Lanka — no Test series losses in five tours — but since the bewildering collapse in a straightforward 168-run chase in Galle in the first Test, the tourists have endured an astonishing nosedive in fortunes.
The last three series between the two sides in Sri Lanka — in 2009, 2012 and 2014 — provide a perfect synopsis of the fall from grace for Pakistan as they lost five and won none of the eight Tests.
2009 — Sri Lanka win three-match series 2-0
Merely a few days after winning the WorldT20, a confident Pakistan arrived in Sri Lanka in buoyant mood under Younus Khan.
In the opening Test at Galle, Muhammad Amir, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rauf were handed Test caps.
The bowlers started off by making early inroads but the Sri Lankan lower-order fought back to take the hosts to a reasonable 293. Muhammad Yousuf, returning from a long lay-off, then struck a sublime 112 to give Pakistan a vital 49-run lead.
The hosts could only muster 217 runs in the second innings, setting Pakistan a 168-run target. When the visitors ended day three at 71-2, there only seemed only one outcome possible on day four.
But Yousuf fell to Rangana Herath before even a run was added to the overnight score and Salman Butt’s ugly across-the-line hoick was gobbled in the deep soon after. It triggered a procession of wickets and within a couple of hours the hosts had recorded their first Test win on home soil against Pakistan in 15 years.
Sri Lanka then rubbed salt on the wounds in the second Test in Colombo. Pakistan crashed to a first-innings score of 90 and looked completely clueless against Nuwan Kualasekara’s boomeranging in-swingers.
Sri Lanka helped themselves to a 150-run lead but Pakistan evened things out with a magnificent fight back in the second innings as debutant Fawad Alam scored 168 as a makeshift opener.
After adding 200 with Fawad, Younis (82) fell reverse sweeping a down-the-leg full-toss. The tour was a horrid tale of batting woes and Pakistan collapsed for the third time in succession, losing nine wickets for 45.
This left Sri Lanka needing just 171 to record their first-ever Test series win at home against Pakistan and were hardly troubled as they chased down the target in just 32 overs.
With the series already lost, the visitors played to salvage some pride. Nineties by Khurram Manzoor and Younus and then a five-for by Danish Kaneria gave Pakistan a handy 66-run lead in the first innings at the Singhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground.
The visitors then continued their domination in the second innings and declared at 425-9 — with Shoaib Malik’s 134 standing out —to give Sri Lanka an almost impossible target of 492.
A Kumar Sangakkara-inspired Sri Lanka side denied Pakistan a consolation win by playing out the remaining 134 overs to make 391-4, with the wicketkeeper batsman making 130 off 303 balls.
2012 — Sri Lanka win three-Test series 1-0
Like 2009, Pakistan arrived in Sri Lanka for the 2012 Test series on a high. The tourists were fresh from whitewashing then top-ranked Test side England 3-0 under Misbahul Haq.
However, the skipper was forced to sit out the opener at Galle due to overrate infringements in the limited overs.
As ever Sangakkara threw a spanner in the works for Pakistan with a classy 199. Tillakaratne Dilshan also hammered 101 as Muhammad Hafeez’s first day as Test captain became a baptism of fire.
But the worst was yet to come; Pakistan were bundled out for just 100 to concede a 372-run lead.
After a mad dash second innings, Sri Lanka set Pakistan a 510-run target. The visitors were staring at a humiliating defeat at 38-4 but were saved a bit of embarrassment by Younus and Asad Shafiq’s 151-run stand, despite which they lost by 209 runs.
Pakistan regained the upper hand in the second Test at the SSC by making 551 in the first innings. Hafeez broke free from the captaincy shackles to post 196. Sangakkara (192) then once again missed out on a double century and Sri Lanka conceded a 160-run first innings lead as Junaid Khan and Abdur Rehman shared nine wickets.
However, Pakistan — who declared for 100-2 in their second innings — were unable to complete the win as the hosts saw out the final 22 overs.
Misbah’s attempts of avoiding his first Test series defeat as captain were foiled by rain in the final Pallekele Test as the two sides played out a drab draw.
2014 — Sri Lanka in two-match series 2-0
The first Test of the last-minute 2014 series was held at Galle — a fortress for the hosts against Pakistan.
Once again a shocking second-innings collapse saw Pakistan surrender the Test despite scoring 451 in the first-innings. Sangakkara’s 221 helped Sri Lanka claim an 82-run lead over Pakistan, who then folded for just 180 as Rangana Herath claimed six.
Chasing 99 runs in the last hour of day five, the Lankans galloped to the target inside 17 overs. The heavens opened immediately after captain Angelo Mathews struck the winning shot.
The two teams then convened to Colombo for the final match of Mahela Jayawardene’s legendary Test career.
Junaid’s five-for restricted Sri Lanka to 320 in the first innings and Pakistan then gained a slender 12-run lead as Sarfraz scored his maiden hundred. The man of the moment though was Herath, who claimed remarkable figures of 9-127.
The bowlers then did their job to ensure that Pakistan were looking at a gettable 271-run target to draw the series. However, the tourists were reduced to 50-5 before being dismissed for just 165 to concede the match by 105 runs.
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