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  1. #1
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    Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Homecoming of Test cricket and a lot of questions to answer for Pakistan

    Many thanks to @Titan24 for this preview of the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka series.




    The eminently forgettable Australian tour for Pakistan cricket team ended with it dropping to the lowly number 8 position in the ICC Test rankings. Pakistan’s current Test ranking sheds light on not only the recently concluded series against Australia but is also based on the last 2 years where Pakistan was only one series win where they beat Australia in UAE by a 1-0 margin.

    Despite all this doom and gloom, one big positive for Pakistan cricket is the homecoming of Test cricket after 10 years and what better way to start that than to have the same team touring Pakistan for Test cricket which was the last team to play Tests in Pakistan as well and that team in Sri Lanka.

    Last time these two sides played a Test series was in the home series of Pakistan in UAE where Sri Lanka won the series 0-2 whitewashing Pakistan. The upcoming series which also consists of 2 Tests and will be important for both the teams for different reasons. For Sri Lanka, they would like to continue to taste Test success against Pakistan, and for Pakistan it will be an opportunity to turn it around this time in its own backyard with venues being National Stadium Karachi and Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

    Its pertinent to mention that nature of the conditions in Pakistan might be different than to those encountered in the UAE where they have been playing Test cricket for last 10 years. National Stadium Karachi historically provides good batting surfaces with nothing much in it for the pacers or spinners – in the last couple of days spinners might come into play but it's not guaranteed. While for Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium if we take its historical nature, it has probably the most supportive pitch in Pakistan for conventional pace bowling. However, just like Pakistan cricket team which is going to play Test cricket in Pakistan after a decade, Pakistani groundsmen will also be preparing wickets for Test cricket after a decade so we will have to see what they have in store for this all important series.

    The only positives from Pakistan’s disastrous Australia series which Pakistan can take into home series against Sri Lanka is Babar Azam finding his feet at Test level, Mohammad Rizwan providing a dependable wicket-keeper option at no 6 or 7 and Shaheen Shah Afridi progressing decently in his Test career. He was by far the best bowler on display from Pakistan's side on his very first tour of Australia, whilst Naseem Shah looked a genuine prospect; however his fitness and handling by management will be something to look out for in the future.

    For the Sri Lanka series Pakistan will need to find openers who can convert starts and play long innings. Other than the options tried in Australia, Abid Ali and Sami Aslam (who is currently the highest scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy) are the stand outs who should be given the chance. Iftikhar Ahmed didn’t look too convincing in Tests in Australia and whether team management sticks with him or not will have to be seen though he will be playing at home where he can adjust better and can provide a decent off spin option depending upon the conditions. Haris Sohail, despite his failures in Australia, was really good in the last 2 series he played in UAE and was the highest scorer in the series against New Zealand so he could well be back in the Pakistan playing XI for the first Test match vs Sri Lanka.

    However, the biggest worry for Pakistan is the recent lack of big scores from their most senior batsmen in the shape of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. While both the batsmen have been far from convincing in the last two years, they are unlikely to be replaced and so the middle-order will largely remain the same as it was in Australia with Azhar, Babar, Asad and Haris likely to be the preferred options. However, if Azhar thinks about going back to opening then there might be a place for another batsman in the middle.

    The pace bowling, with the sole exception of Shaheen Shah Afridi, looks toothless. Mohammad Abbas looks out of form and rhythm though lower bounce in Pakistan might suit his style of bowling more than in Australia, but it would be a tough call to make either ways as even in Quaid-e-Azam trophy he couldn’t impress much. It would also be logical to expect Imran Khan Snr and Muhammad Musa Khan to make way for other pacers.

    So, who are the pacers who could be seen in the Pakistan line-up for the series against Sri Lanka? To start with, 26-year-old Ehsan Adil has improved a lot in the last two years and is doing decently in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy. His good height, his wicket-to-wicket style of bowling and a current economy of 2.65 can provide much needed control to build pressure. Another young option is Sameen Gul who is 20 years of age and already has 21 First-Class matches under his belt with an astonishing bowling average of 16; even in this year’s Quaid-e-Azam trophy which is much more competitive and is being played on good wickets for batting, he is averaging 25 with the ball.

    Another contender can be the 25-year-old Usman Khan Shinwari who is looking fitter than before when he struggled with back injuries and has bowled well in the current Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 12 wickets at an average of 22. Shinwari has one of the highest number of Man of the Match awards for Pakistan amongst pacers in ODIs in last 5 years which shows that he has the knack of picking wickets which can be handy in Tests, however on his bad days he can give away runs and release pressure. Encouragingly enough, he also has two 5-fers against Sri Lanka in ODIs which shows that he has troubled most of the Sri Lankan names in the squad more often than not in ODIs. The veteran Rahat Ali hasn’t been too impressive in his international career so far but lack of options might put him on the radar again for Test selection.

    Coming to the spin bowling department, Yasir Shah is expected be the first choice considering his record at home and the big question will be who will be his spin-partner if two spinners are chosen considering the conditions. Pakistan has been lacking a decent slow left arm spinner since Zulfiqar Babar, so Zafar Gohar is a name which comes to mind. He is 24 years old and has also scored his first First-Class hundred in this domestic season and is also currently the 2nd highest wicket taker with 36 wickets at an average of 30. Nauman Ali is another option which Pakistan could consider. Nauman is 33-years-old and is also a slow left arm spin bowling option who is currently the highest wicket taker in the current First-Class season with an average of 23. Sajid Khan has been really impressive with his off spin in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this year with 19 wickets at an average of 25 and considering the number of left-handers in Sri Lanka line-up, he can be on the selector’s radar too.

    Sri Lanka recently have actually been doing few things in Tests which their previous legends and top players couldn’t do in their time, and that is to win a Test series against South Africa by white-washing them 0-2 and also white-washing Pakistan in their home series 0-2.

    Though Sri Lanka will be missing their spin legend in Rangana Herath who was always the one against which Pakistani batsmen never looked comfortable against, Lasith Embuldeniya with his slow left arm spin could well be the home side’s nemesis. Embuldeniya is 23 years old and has 4 Tests under his belt with 12 wickets, he does have a decent arm bowl as well which was an important weapon of Herath against a Pakistan. Apart from him, Dilruwan Parera the off spinner who played an important role in UAE will be the most experienced spinner in the squad.

    Sri Lanka batting for their part, will have some experienced campaigners is Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal supported by some impressive young batsmen in Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella. Who can forget Kusal Perera whose batting against South Africa changed the tide of the entire series with arguably one of the best knocks in the history of Test cricket? Sri Lankan pace bowling might not look threatening on paper however, even with their limitations their application has been impressive on occasions unlike their Pakistani counterparts and was one of the main reasons of series win in South Africa.

    This series promises to be a well contested one. Whilst Pakistan will be playing at home, the fact is that they haven’t played a Test on their home turf for 10 years and their troubles could well be compounded by their poor recent form from the Australia tour. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have been hot and cold in recent times, so even though they are no 6 in latest Test rankings while Pakistan is at the number 8 position. Sri Lanka still can't be said to be firm favourites in the 2-match Test series.

    Pakistan needs to answer a lot of questions in the upcoming series however, if they can find the right answers they have enough power in their tank to win their first Test series in Pakistan which is happening after a gap of 10 years and could finally bring joy to their World Test Championship campaign.
    Last edited by Abdullah719; 4th December 2019 at 12:42.


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  2. #2
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    Despite missing their legend Herath, SL look formidable against this team.

    Maybe Pakistan should consider playing Fawad Alam? I expect star performances from Shaheen and Babar. Yasir will continue on bowling 40 hours per day.

    A golden opportunity to drop Azhar/Asad.

    Beautiful write up.
    Last edited by WhenSultansBowled; 4th December 2019 at 14:42.

  3. #3
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    Srilanka are far more better team than us...better spinners and pacers and even batters to some extent

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the article @Titan24

    Ehsan Adil and Sameen Gul - possibly deserve a chance - I really dont think Rahat should be brought back.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Thanks for the article @Titan24

    Ehsan Adil and Sameen Gul - possibly deserve a chance - I really dont think Rahat should be brought back.
    I agree and would also prefer young pacers who have decent FC experience as well to be given a chance rather than going back towards Rahat or any post 30 pacer for that matter.

  6. #6
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    Sri lanka's batting is pretty solid and for that reason alone they will put decent runs on the board which will help them win both tests.

  7. #7
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    Babar will score 300 this series

  8. #8
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    Babar needs to score atleast 400 runs in this series.

  9. #9
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    I donít understand why Pakistani fans are overacting over the failure of Australia series. Not even the greats of Pakistan accomplished the win there. So we should wait and see how other teams will perform in Aus. To me this is the awakening of Aussies era again under langer. I doubt any team will be able to beat this side of Aus in Aus. Starc, Hazel, cummins, pattinson.

    Coming back to Pakistan, i believe with the right selection and approach, we can easily win against lanka.

    Few important decisions need to be made.

    1. Appointing the right captain, I seriously believe without waiting any further we should appoint Harris Sohail as a Captain. He is the best batsmen after Babar in the team, he has the cricketing sense, he will deliver if he backed properly.

    2. Coming back to the right selection. Abid Ali, Fawad alam and Sami Aslam, Saud Shakeel, should be drafted back in the squad.

    3. Preparing a result oriented pitches. I would go with Green pitches, no need to be negative about it. Back your fast bowlers here. Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen, Harris Rauf, Fahim Ashraf, Sadaf. Should be the ones who need to be selected. They all can deliver on green tops. Would like to see hassan ali and amir but well move on from amir.

    4. AZHAR NEED to be told that is his last series. Asad should be given last chance at home if he fails drop him for good.

    Coaching staff must be back up atleast for 1 year. Misbah must give up either coaching or chief selector job cant have both.

  10. #10
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    If Azhar does not score on home pitches, I doubt he will ever improve. Big question mark on him.


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  11. #11
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    Sri Lanka have an edge with their bowling. Series could go 2-nil in their favor.

  12. #12
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    I look forward to this series, should be closely contested.

    Reading the OP, it looks like Pakistan does have lots of promising pacers in the waiting. No idea why Naseem got benched and Musa got picked in Australia. Spin department looks dry though. On the batting front, it still is Babar or bust. No hopes on the rest of them barring Rizwan.

    Srilanka can spring a surprise but Pakistan should win this provided they select a team that can pick 20 wickets. Its gotta be the bowlers.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lahoriyah1234 View Post
    I don’t understand why Pakistani fans are overacting over the failure of Australia series. Not even the greats of Pakistan accomplished the win there. So we should wait and see how other teams will perform in Aus. To me this is the awakening of Aussies era again under langer. I doubt any team will be able to beat this side of Aus in Aus. Starc, Hazel, cummins, pattinson.

    Coming back to Pakistan, i believe with the right selection and approach, we can easily win against lanka.

    Few important decisions need to be made.

    1. Appointing the right captain, I seriously believe without waiting any further we should appoint Harris Sohail as a Captain. He is the best batsmen after Babar in the team, he has the cricketing sense, he will deliver if he backed properly.

    2. Coming back to the right selection. Abid Ali, Fawad alam and Sami Aslam, Saud Shakeel, should be drafted back in the squad.

    3. Preparing a result oriented pitches. I would go with Green pitches, no need to be negative about it. Back your fast bowlers here. Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen, Harris Rauf, Fahim Ashraf, Sadaf. Should be the ones who need to be selected. They all can deliver on green tops. Would like to see hassan ali and amir but well move on from amir.

    4. AZHAR NEED to be told that is his last series. Asad should be given last chance at home if he fails drop him for good.

    Coaching staff must be back up atleast for 1 year. Misbah must give up either coaching or chief selector job cant have both.
    Salaam bhai,

    First all fully agree that beating Australia in Australia is very tough even if you are up against a B level Aussie side. Pakistan aren't the first and they certainly aren't the last team to struggle in Aussie conditions.

    Your points:

    1. Haris Sohail was questionable when he just strolled into the test team and didn't play any domestic cricket whatsoever which i felt was unfair on domestic performers eg Fawad Alam, Zeeshan Malik, Sami Aslam etc etc. Haris Sohail doesn't have any captaincy experience unless i could be wrong but it's never an easy role to fulfill i.e. pitch inspection, whether to bat or bowl first, using your bowlers, taking part in selection, field adjustments etc etc.

    2. Fully agree with those names you just gave but would say Imran Butt might be a bit more of an attractive option to Sami Aslam seeing as his scores were mostly consistent this QeA season. PS everyone flies in tomorrow so i think we'll get to find out who's playing the SL series.

    3. Pitch is what it is, you can only do your best for prepping and know whether to have more spinners or fast bowlers.

    4. Again apart from Azhar nobody has no real captaincy experience which is just sad as Azhar was a terrible captain post Wc 2015. However, i think if you have a good squad then captaining can be easier which is why selection and stats analysis is so crucial.

    Coaching staff just wanna float some names Younis Khan and Muhammad Yousaf (2 of the nicest characters i think the game has to offer).

    True, Misbah should give up a post as the work load is far too much and so it's evident that quality has suffered. However, i fully agree with Misbah giving Sarfraz the boot which was his best decision and in fact he had his complaints about Haris being a bit of a "kaam chor" when it came to training sessions (remember reading about this in October prior to the Sarfraz sacking).

  14. #14
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    It would be unfair to drop Azhar after Australia tour. I think he should play next series and then selectors can decided to continue with him or drop him. Regarding Harris Sohail, he needs to perform before he can be considered for anything. Babar will most likely be given a test captaincy after SriLanka tour and that would be the best option, either that or Rizwan. I would never pick Haris Sohail, his attitude and fitness are the main issues.
    Fawad must be selected but he must play as late middle order batsman. We donít need to experiment with him anymore or make him a towel boy.
    I would prefer left and right combination for the opening pair, Shaan and Abil Ali, Azhar @3, Babar @4, Fawad @5, Rizwan@6 and rest of the team.

  15. #15
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    Does anyone know if DAZN will be showing Sri Lanka vs Pakistan series. I subscribe to ATN and CBN but doesn't look like they will show it.

  16. #16
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    Ideally, Azhar Ali should not even be playing this series. But, as we are speaking about Pakistan Cricket, we have to defy logic and play as a Captain someone who averages in the 20s since more than 2 years now.
    The batting will be once again heavily dependent on Babar Azam, who seems to be batting on a different planet compared to the rest of our batsmen. Haris Sohail has the game to become a more successful Test batsman than Babar, but his lack of work ethic and laziness doesn't help. It's absolutely useless to expect anything from the likes of Azhar and Asad, who, even after playing 70+ games, still need time.
    Bowling wise, Yasir Shah will step up as he usually does in the subcontient, but the need of another specialist spinner is the need of the hour, and expecting Iftikhar to fulfill that role is useless.
    We are playing the Test Championship and we expect consistent match winning performances from the likes of Shaheen, Naseem and Musa. They are all 19-20 years of age, and they need time before adjusting themselves to the longer format. The likes of Rahat, Abbas, Yasir are the bowlers who need to take more responsibility. They have been playing as regulars in the Test team, and they have very little to show for.

    At the moment, Sri Lanka are a much better Test side than Pakistan and the ICC rankings show it. A lot of people thought that last year's whitewash was a fluke, but they proved everyone wrong with some great performances overseas since then. It's not going to be an easy series for Pakistan, who desperately need to win this series to save themselves from more humiliation. A series loss at home should be the end for Misbah, who has not made a single good decision since coming to power, for Azhar, who has looked out of place ever since the retirements of MisYou, and for Asad as well.
    Last edited by Waleed93; 6th December 2019 at 20:09.

  17. #17
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    Breaks my heart that due to the sad events of 2009, a whole generation of Pakistani cricketers have been unable to do what is normal for other cricketers - that is to play Test cricket at home. NONE of the squad announced today has ever played a Test match in Pakistan.



  18. #18
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    It is good to see that DAZN is scheduled to show the matches in Canada. Looking forward to watching it. With all the negatives it is great that cricket is back in Pakistan.

  19. #19
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    If pakistan prepares seamer friendly wickets then we got no chance

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gazza619 View Post
    If pakistan prepares seamer friendly wickets then we got no chance
    If Pak was playing against Srl in Eng, I personally think Pak would have a much better chance to win the series than Srl.

  21. #21
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    Hope Sri Lanka gain some deserved championship points and mickey pulls a mickey

  22. #22
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    My cousin who lives in Rawalpindi was totally unaware that test cricket is returning to his city. He says the promotion of the game by PCB is non existent.

  23. #23
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    Let's see if aside from Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Rizwan Khan can be a solid long term prospect for Pakistan or not.

  24. #24
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    Great homecoming but the venue seems to be a problem. Wonder if we will expect any changes for the 2nd Test? Is it fair to change the side (apart from bringing in Yasir Shah) - Will Fawad Alam get a chance?


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