Wahab Riaz loses his groove in Dubai as Pakistan face an uphill task to keep unbeaten record in UAE in tact
A monumental innings from Dimuth Karunaratne underpinned Sri Lanka’s push for history as the batsman fell four runs short of a double hundred
Down one leading bowler. A 431-run deficit still to clear in the first innings. Two leader, legends still retired, and still not coming back. Weary limbs. A wearing pitch. Rangana Herath still in opposition.
Fair to say, this is going to be a good one to win from here for Pakistan. They have made a plucky start to hauling in Sri Lanka’s opening gambit of 482.
Shan Masood and Sami Aslam, the Pakistan openers, reached stumps on Day 2 of the Dubai Test at 51 for no loss. It will be a heady achievement if the home side are to force a win that would maintain their undefeated record in Test series in the UAE, though.
A monumental innings from Dimuth Karunaratne underpinned Sri Lanka’s push for history.
Day 1 report: Karunarante century sets up Sri Lanka in Dubai
The left-handed opener has a frustrating knack of just missing out on milestones. Once against India in the recent series, and twice already in this one, he has succumbed to the “nervous nineties”.
At least this time round he had a one in front of it. His 196, which ended when he dragged a ball from Mohammed Abbas onto his stumps, might have been one blow short of a double century, but it still represented his best in Tests.
Besides his mammoth effort, Sri Lanka had three players in their middle order pass 50 – Dinesh Chandimal (62), Niroshan Dickwella (52), and Dilruwan Perera (58).
Pakistan’s effort in the field was tragi-comic. First of all, the injury. For the second time in two matches, one of their fast-bowlers suffered an injury serious enough to force him off the field, mid-over. And for the second time, they returned to bowl in the innings – surely injudiciously.
In Abu Dhabi, Hasan Ali was stricken by a glute strain that meant he left the field on the fourth afternoon, only for him to return to try again on the fifth morning. The effect was he was left out of the Dubai Test through injury.
Tharanga interview: Sri Lanka can take momentum forward after Abu Dhabi win
The lesson went unheeded. A shin injury led Mohammed Amir to trudge off on the opening night of the second Test. He tried again, with his left leg strapped heavily at the calf, at the start of Day 2.
He managed three overs, went lame, and only then was it thought to be sensible to send him to hospital for an MRI scan. He will bat if really needed, but will not bowl again in the match, and has been ruled out of the limited-overs series that follows.
And then, the farce. Wahab Riaz is nothing if not a trier. When Amir’s departure left Pakistan with just three specialist bowlers, he will have no doubt felt emboldened by the task. He loves this stadium, and he loves hard work.
Pity, then, that he chose this day of all days to lose his run up. He could have done with sat-nav to relocate it. In his 19th over, he ran up four times in a row, before losing track and bailing out.
He remarked his run, had two practice goes. Then, when he was finally set to have another go, he aborted again.
At no point could the Pakistan bowlers’ effort be faulted, though. No matter what his Yo-Yo test readouts say, Yasir Shah is basically indefatigable.
He bowled 84 overs in Abu Dhabi. Three days later, on Day 1 in Dubai, he was thrown the ball with 10 overs gone and the thermometer still pushing 40 degrees.
At least he earned the reward of the ball for his mantelpiece for his toils, after he took six wickets in the 55.5 overs he bowled. It will be cramped for room on said mantelpiece: it was his fifth haul of five wickets or better in his past five Test matches.
Since Pakistan started their tour of the West Indies in April, he has taken 39 wickets in four and a half Tests.
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Updated: October 9, 2017 09:39 PM