SL storm Pakistan’s desert fortress
Sarfraz blames batting for shock series loss in adopted home
Sarfraz Ahmed’s presser in Dubai following the Test series defeat to Sri Lanka began with the fire alarm going off in the conference room. It proved poignant after Pakistan lost the Dubai Test by 68 runs to surrender the series 2-0, their first setback since making the UAE their temporary home in 2010.
Pakistan had high hopes after starting the day on 198-5, chasing 317, with overnight batsmen Ahmed and Asad Shafiq starting off with fifties next to their name.
But once captain Ahmed perished for 68 while trying to sweep off-spinner Dilruwan Perera (5-98), the wheels came off and the ‘hosts’ lost inside the first session on the last day despite Shafiq’s impressive 112.
Ahmed admitted poor batting was the main reason for the series loss as they failed to chase down 136 in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai, were dismissed for 262 and 248.
“We lacked a lot in batting. We didn’t play long innings despite getting starts. Like Asad did in the second innings, if someone had played like that in the first innings or previous Test, we could have done better,” Ahmed said.
“In this series, we faced more trouble in our batting. We had fifties, but couldn’t convert them into big hundreds. We also didn’t have partnerships. That’s why we lost the series.”
Two big issues facing Pakistan are openers and the batting position of Azhar Ali. Shan Masood averages 23.5 in Tests while Sami Aslam just
over 31. Also, Ali was pushed to the middle order despite doing well as an opener last season when he scored a triple century, a double century and two tons at the top of the order.
“It’s not that we struggled because of our openers. In both Tests, they gave us a good start (114 and 61 in first innings).
“We wanted to have Azhar in the middle order because Pakistan have tasted success because of a strong middle order.”
The form of Babar Azam is another concern. The middle-order batsman has been out without scoring five times in six Tests this year, however, Sarfraz has requested more patience.
He added: “This is a young team, new team. Babar Azam is a talented player. His performances in Tests recently haven’t been good. But I don’t think he should be written off. He needs some time in Test cricket.”
The wicketkeeper batsman confessed that ultimately, Sri Lanka were the better team and deserved the series win.
“Sri Lanka played better cricket than us. Credit goes to them. Their spinners and seamers did very well.
“We had experienced bowlers like Hasan Ali and (Mohammad) Amir but unfortunately, couldn’t get the wickets. Their fast bowlers did better. They bowled in the right areas and picked wickets at the right time,” Ahmed added.
Perera had a brilliant match as he finished with a five-for to go with his three wickets in the first innings and crucial 58 while batting in the first essay.
Man of the moment: Dilruwan Perera ended up with eight wickets in the Dubai Test.
Never give up: Shafiq scored a superb century but couldn’t see his team home.