Reaction as Pakistan lose their first ‘home’ series in the UAE
SO humiliating was the series defeat by Pakistan for the first time in the UAE that Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi urged patience among supporters back home.
A first ‘home series’ defeat for Pakistan in the UAE since their forced exile in 2009 was dealt by the most unlikely hand in Sri Lanka.
Whitewashed by India, degraded by Zimbabwe, and an overhaul to their committee of selectors at the end of August meant a Sri Lanka team in disarray were unfancied across both Tests at the outset.
But a 68-run win wrapped up in Dubai sealed euphoria for the Sri Lankans and sent the head of Pakistan cricket on the defensive: “The boys won CT [Champions Trophy] for you,” Sethi tweeted.
“[It’s] Hard to fill the vacuum of Afridi, Misbah and Younas overnight. Give them time to gel into Test form. Have faith!”
No congratulations to Sri Lanka from Sethi, but coach Mickey Arthur said his side had not taken their opponents likely in preparing for the series.
“No, absolutely no truth at all,” Arthur told Wisden India who queried if his side had become complacent.
“We were a developing Test team and right from the start of the campaign, we spoke very highly of the Sri Lankans.”
“We knew that they were going to be battle-hardened after their series with India. We hadn’t played any competitive cricket since the Champions Trophy and that was a totally different squad.
“Our Test team hadn’t played any cricket since the West Indies tour.We knew we had to be at our best to beat them. They showed they were more battle-hardened and disciplined than us over a period of five days.”
Pakistan had battled back to bowl Sri Lanka out for 96 in their second innings only for their top four batsmen to score a combined 49 runs, as Dilruwan Perera claimed 5-98. This after the tourists Dimuth Karunaratne hit a marvellous 196 in the first innings.
Alluding to his own misgivings in selecting the batting order, Arthur said the following when commenting on the state of Pakistan’s Test team.
“Clearly, our Test team has come back to a position where it’s very much a fledgling side and not a stable side, not a settled side. Hopefully a year on from here, our Test team would have grown and we have the composition of the team right.
Leaning reliably towards what experience they do possess, Pakistan can be buoyed by the century from 31-year-old Asad Shafiq who put on a partnership worth 173 with skipper Sarfraz Ahmed.
A small solace to take after Sri Lanka were left to celebrate winning only their second tour series since 2000.
Five of the best: Dilruwan Perera took five wickets to skittle Pakistan
Century: Dimuth Karunaratne