Many believed that chasing a target of over 300 is beyond the capability of Pakistan’s batting order and when Sri Lanka set 377 for Pakistan to win the final Test and the series, there were very few who thought that Pakistan could achieve it. And when they lost two wickets for just 13, the fans lost almost all hopes.
But young opener Shan Masood (125) and veteran Younis Khan (171 not out) did it for the nation with a record 242-run partnership and achieved the highest successful chase for Pakistan.
It was the sixth highest successful chase overall in Tests. Having a player like Younis in the team is a blessing, said skipper Misbah-ul-Haq after the match.
Misbah’s boys ended a 9-year drought of winning a Test series in Sri Lanka.
Interestingly Misbah was part of the three previous teams that had failed to win a Test series in Sri Lanka. Perhaps that was why Misbah described the win as a dream come true.
Pakistan got advantage of the absence of veteran Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The inexperienced Lankan batting failed to tackle Yasir Shah. Without Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz it was a difficult task for Pakistan’s inexperienced bowling to take 20 Sri Lankan wickets but it did it.
Pakistani batsmen handled Rangana Herath according to their plan due to which the Lankan left-arm spinner, who had rattled Pakistani batting last year, was dropped for the third Test. He managed only two wickets in the first two games of the series and conceded 218 runs. Off-spinner Kaushal ended with figures of 1 for 153 in 31 overs in the final Test.
With the remarkable series win Pakistan jumped from sixth place to third in the ICC Test rankings. Pakistan started the Test series with 97 points, bagged four rating points from the win and surpassed England, India and New Zealand. Pakistan now lead New Zealand by two points and are 10 points behind second-placed Australia. South Africa top the table with 130 points.
Younis and Yasir were the heroes of the series win. After the retirement of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, Younis and Misbah have been the backbone of Pakistan batting in Test cricket.
Younis ended the Test series at 8814, just two runs short of former captain Inzamam’s 8830 and 19 runs behind Javed Miandad’s 8832.
Younis’ 171 not out was the highest by a Pakistan batsman in the fourth innings. It was also the fifth highest individual score in a successful chase after Gordon Greenidge, Arthur Morris, Don Bradman and Mark Butcher.
His 171 was also the 11th occasion when he scored 150 plus runs in Test matches. He also became the first batsmen in Test history to score five centuries in the fourth innings.
Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne was the most successful batsman of the Test series with 318 runs at an average of 53. He struck one hundred and two fifties. Younis, with 267 runs, averaging 66.75, was the top scorer for Pakistan.
Man of the Series Yasir took 24 wickets at an average of just 19.33. For the hosts, Dhammika Prasad remained the most successful bowler with 14 scalps, averaging 27.07.
Despite the win, there are a few considerable points for Pakistan before their Test series against England in the UAE in October and November this year.
The management should solve the openers’ problem; Ahmed Shehzad definitely doesn’t have the temperament and technique for Test matches.
It should give chances to Shan Masood on regular basis and find another opener who can handle the new ball, especially on hard pitches.
Pakistan’s immediate target is to win the One-day International series against Sri Lanka to qualify for the Champions Trophy 2017. The Test series win should serve as a morale booster for the Azhar Ali-led side.