Several Hands fashion Sri Lanka’s Defeat of Pakistan in 2nd Test

Andrew Fidel Fernando, courtesy of ESPNcricinfo, 3 October 2017, where the title runs “Dilruwan’s five-for seals memorable series sweep

Dilruwan celebrates a wicket

Sri Lanka 482 (Karunaratne 196, Yasir 6-184) and 96 (Wahab 4-41, Haris 3-1) beat Pakistan 262 (Azhar 59, Haris 56, Dilruwan 3-72, Herath 3-84) and 248 (Shafiq 112, Dilruwan 5-98) by 68 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Like waves breaking upon a cliff, Sri Lanka’s bowlers kept coming at Pakistan, until eventually, the hosts fractured and tumbled into the sea. So tantalisingly had the match been poised overnight, perhaps the ending was even a little anticlimactic. Sri Lanka’s margin of victory was 68 runs – a comfortable win by most standards. Though Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq had begun confidently, the visitors needed only 5.5 overs to break that partnership, and about 90 minutes in all to wipe out the lower half of the Pakistan innings. The series had been swept, completely unexpectedly, 2-0.

Dilruwan Perera was Sri Lanka’s primary bowling figure on day five, as he had been throughout the innings, claiming two further wickets to complete a fourth career five-wicket haul. He also took that vital wicket of Sarfraz to break the mighty resistance Pakistan’s sixth-wicket partnership had mounted.

Rangana Herath, who had had an uncharacteristically quiet fourth-innings until then, took two wickets of his own, and Suranga Lakmal had Shafiq caught at slip. After the battering Sri Lanka had received at home, at India’s hands, this series victory must surely rank among the most surprising results of their Test history. On the Sri Lankan balcony, support staff were ecstatic, while on the field Dinesh Chandimal led elated celebrations. The joy was justified: not counting the win in a one-off Test against Zimbabwe, this was Sri Lanka’s first Test series victory in almost a year.

Pakistan, meanwhile, have had a disappointing start to life post Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. Sarfraz and Shafiq needed to see out seven overs before the second new ball became available, but Sarfraz’s wicket exposed the tail prematurely. That Shafiq progressed to an outstanding 11th Test hundred was almost forgotten in the final wash-up. He finished on 112 off 176 balls. The partnership with Sarfraz was worth 173. For the first time, Pakistan have lost a Test series since moving base to the UAE.

The previous four sessions of this match were practically dripping with drama, and day five also began with a little excitement. Shafiq glanced the second ball of the day to the fine leg fence to move into the 90s, before Sarfraz cracked a four behind point next over. Then, Sri Lanka had three near misses. Kaushal Silva swooped on the ball from point, but could not effect the direct hit that might have seen a diving Shafiq run-out for 95.

A few balls later, Sarfraz had dragged his back foot out of the crease while attempting a sweep, but wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella could not quite get the bails off in time. Finally, after Shafiq had completed a century off the 151st delivery he faced, Dimuth Karunaratne dropped him at slip off the bowling of Dilruwan. Hands began to go to Sri Lankan heads. Sarfraz and Shafiq had progressed so faultlessly on day four, that it seemed unlikely many more chances would come.

Then, suddenly: the breakthrough. Dilruwan got a ball to drift in towards the batsman, and Sarfraz – aiming a hard, flat sweep – managed only to get a thick top-edge to the ball. The man at long leg, Nuwan Pradeep, almost got tangled up in his own legs, but did well enough to take the catch cleanly. With only seven deliveries to be bowled before the second new ball was due, Sri Lanka had struck.

The remaining batsmen fell without notable resistance. Mohammad Amir was out to a Dilruwan slider off the ninth ball. Yasir Shah was stumped off Herath, attempting a giant heave. Lakmal shaped a ball away from Shafiq – who had not quite looked himself after getting to triple figures – and Kusal Mendis took another excellent tumbling catch at slip.

The final batting act of the series belonged to Wahab Riaz. Attempting to wallop Herath out of the ground, he wound up only sending a catch high in the air, to Chandimal at cover. On Sri Lanka’s balcony, cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha broke into an uncharacteristically wide grin, and wrapped interim coach Nic Pothas up in a bear hug.

For Sarfraz, it was a return to earth, after his captaincy had begun so successfully with the victory at the Champions Trophy. For Chandimal, a victory in the first full series he has captained – the Zimbabwe match was a one-off, and he had not played the first match against India – has helped put some belief in his team, a quality that had previously been lacking. A series that was enlivened by a litany of twists has thrown up a startling result.

***  ****

Rex Clementne’s Report in Island, : Sri Lanka complete historic series win””

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Sri Lanka have ended Pakistan’s unbeaten run in UAE in dramatic fashion as they won the second and final Test match here in Dubai on Tuesday by 68 runs. Sri Lanka wrapped up the series 2-0 after Pakistan chasing a target of 317 were bowled out for 248 runs with more than two sessions to spare on the final day. Since UAE became Pakistan’s adopted home in 2010, they had not lost a Test series. In fact this was their first series defeat at home since 2007 when Graeme Smith’s South Africans beat them 1-0.

The victory helped the battered Sri Lankan team to improve their ranking in Test cricket moving to number six ahead of Pakistan. Currently only three rating points separate them and fourth ranked New Zealand.

The final day’s play resumed with the game evenly poised as Pakistan needed 119 runs to win and Sri Lanka required five wickets.

Resuming from the overnight score of 198 for five, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed took the total 225. In the process, Shafiq completed his 12th Test hundred sweeping Dilruwan Perera for four. Soon after the milestone, Dimuth Karunaratne, who was named Man of the Match and Player of the Series, dropped Shafiq at first slip.

Pakistan required only 92 runs at that stage and Sri Lanka were pinning their hopes on the new ball to provide them a breakthrough.

However, in the penultimate over before the new ball was due, Sarfraz attempted to sweep Perera but only managed a top edge and Nuwan Pradeep at deep backward square leg took a good catch to end a record 173 run stand that had given Pakistan a ray of hope.

Sri Lanka were delighted to make a breakthrough before the new ball and with the partnership broken it was just a matter of time. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable fight back by the two Pakistani batsmen as the hosts had been reduced to 52 for five before they go together.

Perera then trapped Mohammad Amir to complete his fifth five wicket haul. Suranga Lakmal removed centurion Asad Shafiq for 112 when Kusasl Mendis took a good catch at slip.

Herath polished off the tail and Sri Lanka celebrated a famous series win.

This was their first series win overseas against a team ranked higher than them since winning in England in 2014. It was their first series win against Pakistan away from home since 2000.

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Filed under Andrew Fidel Fernando, cricket and life, cricketing icons, performance, player selections, Rangana Herath, Rex Clementine, Sri Lanka Cricket

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