Pakistan’s infuriating unpredictability tag returned to haunt them in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo as days after a stunning win at Galle, Misbahul Haq’s men fell to extremely poor batting in the first innings, as well as a largely negative mindset and an unimaginative game plan, to hand a win to the hosts, on a platter. While it would be unfair to take credit away from Sri Lanka for their superb comeback in the series, the fact remains that Pakistan’s woes of old were largely responsible for the meek surrender. Batting first in slightly challenging conditions on the first day, the tourists collapsed to 138. At lunch on the opening day, Pakistan were 70 for 2, but within no time the middle and lower order wilted against the wiles of Sri Lankan off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal and the nagging accuracy of Dhammika Prasad.
After the first-innings meltdown, Pakistan were pegged firmly on the back foot and had to play catch-up in the remainder of the game. In Sri Lanka’s first innings, some shoddy fielding and poor umpiring allowed the hosts to claw back after Yasir Shah had continued to impress, giving Pakistan a glimmer of hope. The captain’s show left a lot to be desired as he seemed to be playing a waiting game and did not show as much aggression as was perhaps, required. In Pakistan’s second innings, other than the obdurate Azhar Ali, no batsman stayed at the wicket long enough to make a difference. Even the ever-dependable Younus Khan — appearing in his 100th Test — looked out of sorts. Misbah, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed all failed to convert their starts into substantial contributions. At the top of the order, Mohammad Hafeez had a largely forgettable match and with doubts about the legality of his bowling action surfacing again, the seasoned campaigner is set to endure some tough days ahead. Wahab Riaz’s injury has also tilted the balance in favour of the hosts and Pakistan have a lot to ponder on in the days leading up to the third Test that starts on July 4.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.
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