Pakistan will have their work cut out as they seek to defend their impressive record in Sri Lanka when the second Test gets under way at the PS Stadium in Colombo today. Pakistan have never lost a Test series in Sri Lanka, but their stunning defeat in under four days in Galle earlier this week has left Younus Khan and his young team not only facing severe criticism, but also in danger of tarnishing their superb record.
Younus's side must now mount a fightback and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt believes they have to stamp out the "irresponsible" batting which proved their undoing last time out. "You can't expect to win all the time," Butt said. "I thought the team played well throughout the first Test, but lost it in one session because of irresponsible batting. "Hopefully the team will improve their performance in the remaining matches."
Chasing 168 for victory, Pakistan had needed only 97 runs at the start of the fourth day and with eight wickets in hand to achieve their task. But from a comfortable 71 for two, they were bowled out for 117 in the first session, crashing to a 50-run loss. The PCB's director for development of the game, Aamir Sohail, claims the bowlers should learn to skittle out the tail quickly. "The bowlers didn't wrap up the tail quickly enough in both innings," Sohail said. "In the first innings they allowed Sri Lanka reach 292 after being 194 for six.
"In the second innings too, the home side were 156 for seven, but were again let off the hook. It's a worrying aspect. "Those were valuable runs and the team need to improve their approach and tactics against the lower order." Younus would do well to take both views into consideration ahead of the second Test at a venue which has a history of offering the bowlers some encouragement. Pakistan, however, will be aided by the absence of Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who has not recovered from a knee injury. The world's leading bowler has a stunning record at this venue, with 52 wickets in nine Tests, which has helped Sri Lanka claim victories in the last four matches here.
Sri Lanka's selectors have announced an unchanged squad for the match, but a final decision on the team will be made this morning. Captain Kumar Sangakkara, however, favours three fast bowlers in the side, which means he could well field the same team who played in Galle. "Three specialist fast bowlers takes a huge burden off the entire bowling unit," Sangakkara said. "It makes a big difference." Sangakkara's reluctance to tinker with the balance also means Tillakaratne Dilshan will continue to keep wicket. Dilshan stood in for the injured Prasanna Jayawardene in the first game.
The Sri Lankan captain added: "We had a great final day in Galle, but we all know we were not at our best," he said. "We have to be mindful of the fact that we cannot get over-confident with one win." * PA Sport