Pakistan look to seal series win in Sri Lanka despite missing injured Shaheen

GALLE: Pakistani coach Saqlain Mushtaq has admitted his team will miss spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi in the second and final Test against Sri Lanka from Sunday, but hopes other bowlers will step in as his side look to seal a streak victory after a morale. -boost victory in the opening match.

Shaheen’s absence due to a knee injury will hurt Pakistan, who rely on their speed to secure early wickets even on the rotating pitches of the subcontinent. He took four wickets in the opening legs of the first Test at the International Stadium, Galle, which will also host the Second Test, and Pakistan added left-arm spinner Nauman Ali to the squad in his place on Saturday.

“He is inspiring, leads the bowling unit forward, and we will miss his aggression and presence,” Saqlain said on Saturday. “The way he comes in and gives us the breakthrough at the start…hopefully the other bowlers step up.”

The visitors rolled over opener Abdullah Shafique’s unbeaten 160 to chase a record 342 at the venue on a tense fifth day to take a 1-0 series lead.

The Galle ground has changed character in the three matches played in recent weeks, including two Tests against Australia.

Sri Lankan players thought the pitch was flat the last two days when Pakistan struck, but Saqlain said his batsmen were up to it.

“I believe the pitch turned from day one and it kept turning, but I think our boys showed very good character in the game,” said the former off-spinner. “It was a show of determination, patience and temperament from our players.”

Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, meanwhile, said on Saturday that teenage spinner Dunith Wellalage had been included in the last 12 for the second test.

Wellalage, 19, a left-arm orthodox awaiting his Test debut, looks a likely replacement for injured spinner Maheesh Theekshana as the hosts look to bounce back from their first defeat.

“Dunith Wellalage is back in the squad” after being released from the Test squad for a domestic game, Karunaratne told reporters.

“Asitha Fernando is back in the 12. Those are the only changes,” he added on the eve of Angelo Mathews’ historic 100th Test.

Wellalage, also comfortable with batting, played a key role with his nine wickets in Sri Lanka’s 3-2 one-day win over Australia last month, and could link up with Prabath Jayasuriya in the final test.

Jayasuriya fought a lonely battle with his left arm spin to claim a nine-wicket match in the first Test but found little help from the other side.

“We did pretty well in the first test, but the conditions weren’t to our advantage,” Karunaratne said. “Another area we need to work on is the first inning at bat.”

The venue for the second Test has been moved from Colombo to Galle due to political unrest in Sri Lanka, and it is the hosts’ final Test of the season, with their next set of Red Balls a tour of New Zealand in March .

Crucial World Test Championship points will be up for grabs for both teams, with Pakistan third and Sri Lanka sixth in the current standings.

Teams:

SRI LANKA 12: Oshada Fernando, Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Dinuth Wellalage, Prabath Jayasuriya, Kasun Rajitha, Asitha Fernando.

PAKISTAN XI: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (captain), Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Naseem Shah.

Posted in Dawn, July 24, 2022

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