Rehman, Sanga, 1-1, Sanga
Think the Ajmal/Rehman combination might work in Rehman's favour as far as getting wickets go, while Herath and Perera will share a lot of wickets, was tossing up between Younis and Sanga for highest runs and eventually went for Sanga, suspect Pakistan might win the toss in one match and bat us out of it then win with the best spin combo in world cricket currently.
There are two colours in my head
So, another series involving Pakistan finally arrives. Unfortunately, I feel that that this series is "overkill" to some extent - there has been an over-saturation of cricket between these two sides lately, not at all helped by the fact that the Test series only consists of two Tests.
Additionally, playing Sri Lanka on utterly docile tracks (which can be expected given this is Jayawardene's farewell series and simply the general nature of Sri Lankan pitches, especially the disgracefully placid SSC) will make for some genuinely mind-numbingly insipid cricket. Expect a run-fest and a few 500+ scores.
Taking all of this into consideration, I feel this series should be used to experiment with new tactics as a practice for the Australian tour to the UAE. Personally, I believe the following XI is the one which should be adopted for the first Test:
Azhar Ali - formerly an opener in Pakistan domestic cricket, he has played enough First-Class cricket as an opener to open internationally too. Personally, I believe Azhar deserves further opportunities as a Test batsman (given it would be unfair to drop him after his relatively brisk century to win the Test for us in Sharjah) but his strike-rate still remains an issue. Why not play him as a Test opener if his focal role is to remove the shine of the new-ball and wear out the opposition's pace bowler?
Umar Akmal - an attacking stroke-player is required at the #4 position. The jury is still out however on whether Umar can learn to play counter-attackingly yet sensibly, particularly against spin bowling. Guidance from our premier batsman in Younus Khan at #3 will help to calm his erratic personality. For me personally though, his glovework isn't reliable enough to be the Test wicket-keeper for Pakistan and besides, the strain of wicket-keeping for long periods would probably have an adverse effect upon his batting performances.
Asad Shafiq - he remains a huge dilemma of selection, but I believe he has what it takes to be a magnificent back-to-the-wall batsman in the mould of Inzamam-Ul-Haq and VVS Laxman. The belligerent 111 at Cape Town convinced me of this (not that I'm comparing him to either, mind you!).
Sarfraz Ahmed (WK)
Wahab Riaz - having him at #8 would bolster our evidently weak tail. He has enough pace to trouble a spin-proficient Sri Lankan batting line-up. Despite being a risky selection due to his inconsistency, his blistering pace would be great addition and if his deliveries are in the precise areas, he could be of great impact to remove the ever-staunch-against-Pakistan Sangakkara.
Mohammed Talha - similar to the inclusion of Wahab Riaz in the Test XI, apart from the batting perspective. Including Abdul Rehman in the line-up would place Pakistan in a somewhat Catch-22 situation, given the Sri Lankan wickets have a tendency to turn (that is, when they're not absolute pancakes!) but this being rather ineffectual considering the Sri Lankan batsmen are masters against spin bowling. Especially the primary nemesis of Pakistan - Sangakkara!
Junaid Khan - although struggling to swing/seam the ball noticeably, his impeccable Test record against the Sri Lankans (his 4 5-fers against them) means he is an automatic choice for selection. I really hope though that he is able to recapture his form and ability to swing the ball both ways that we witnessed during the December 2012 tour to India.
The omission of Mohammed Irfan is a really telling one, as without him our bowling attack appears mediocre and absent of those famous Pakistani traits - unpredictability, volatility and the capability to initiate a collapse against the run-of-tide!
Last edited by SOPL; 01-08-2014 at 04:22 PM.
Well, given SSC has been recently relaid and the Galle groundsman seems to have found the balance between absolute bunsen and highway I think we can expect 2 results here actually, mind you both games will probably go fairly deep into day 5, might be over-saturation between these two teams but it'll definitely be good competitive cricket IMO.
You'd be crazy to omit Rehman IMO, our pacers outbowled Pakistan's last time, not particularly good signs, think Rehman bowls beautifully alongside Ajmal too.
i hope umar can secure a spot in the test XI from this tour and hopefully shehzad can continue his test form and help sure up the pakistan batting with a bit of consistency from the young ones.
However, I have to state that I personally think (with this being Jayawardene's farewell Test series and all that) a featherbed of a wicket at his home ground at the SSC will be prepared for the second Test. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised however.
Abdur Rehman is largely a consistent and accurate bowler, a spinner who bowls wicket-to-wicket and occasionally utilises an arm ball. Against a batting line-up as adept and proficient against spin bowlers (playing with consummate ease particularly the merely consistent/nagging sorts like the Herath's of the cricketing world), Rehman's inclusion will most likely have no impact. He rarely turns the ball copiously (perhaps only on day 5 on a significantly roughened pitch) and thus isn't going to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen much.
His statistics against Sri Lanka is sufficient enough for my argument (16 wickets at an average of over 40 in 10 bowling innings is evident of a lack of success against Sri Lankan batsmen), an especially salient blot being the strike-rate of 102.6 he currently possesses against Sri Lankan batsmen. This is criminal, particularly considering that once well set on these sub-continental pitches, the scoring becomes considerably easier.
To beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, stellar bowling performances are required. I'm not for one moment suggesting that the Pakistan pace battery is anywhere near the calibre of the South African one, but the fact South Africa attained victory in Sri Lanka with three pacers and only one full-time spinner (and not even a good one in Imran Tahir) is a point to note. Spin bowling isn't always required for success against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
A point well made SOPL regarding bowling that Pakistan should be selecting. However our pacers suck big time. Irfan has retired from test matches and amir is yet to complete his ban. We only havr Junaid as a world class seamer but his form has been quite erratic of late. From what ever little I have seen of Talha he seems more like a work horse rather than a quick strike wicket taker. Wahab hasn't really lived up to his potential imo. He can't seem to move the ball much which makes his pace quite ineffective. Despite his ineffectiveness against SL I think AR should be played since he has the ability to hold down one end while Ajmal can remove wickets from the other end.
1 - 0 to SL
Reckon this will be quite a close series, very much dependent on how Pakistan go against Sri Lanka's best bats. Sangakkara's record against Pakistan is ridiculous, and Mathews has looked good lately so it's not going to be easy. I'm interested to see how Ahmed Shezad does, I've seen a fair bit of him in ODIs and T20s and I reckon he's got what it takes to be a success in tests too.
Abdur Rehman is likely to be an automatic selection but IMO, he will be handled with ease by the might of the Sri Lankan batsmen on their home grounds. Whereas Wahab Riaz, despite his inconsistency and erratic nature, has enough pace to trouble these spin-proficient SL batsmen (particularly Sangakkara and Jayawardene) - as he made it evident in the 2013 Champions Trophy match against the West Indies - and also has the ability to reverse-swing the old cherry too.
He has a five-wicket haul on Test debut too against England in the 3rd Test of 2010, don't forget:
Abdur Rehman shouldn't be as clear a selection as he is always considered to be.
Last edited by SOPL; 01-08-2014 at 06:42 PM.
Junaid had a really good series last time in SL, he's certainly a threat. Rehman has had some good hauls against SL too in the last two tests he's played against them, SL might play spin well but they also play mediocre pace bowlers pretty well at home too
This series is going to be dominated by spin, and for SL, it's not going to be Sanga or Mathews making the impact innings. These two will score with consistency, possibly to average 50+ in the series, but the punchy innings will come from else where. I can name two possible candidates, one, Kaushal Silva, second is MJ. A big grueling hundred which will grind Pakistani bowlers to the dirt is the decisive innings that these two going to play.
If SL suddenly decided to make green seamers, and play three fast bowlers and Mathews, then it's going to be very interesting. Then I pock Mathews to play a whirlwind series deciding knock.
Member of the Sanga fan club. (Ugh! it took me so long to become a real fan of his)
Not too sure about Wahab. If he gets it right, he can do some real damage because of his pace but he does tend to spray it around.
I really like Junaid but he has regressed a bit and has lost his ability to swing (what happened to all those in-swingers and out-swingers he used to bowl with the new ball). SOPL is right that he can't swing the new ball, but I am hoping he has learnt something during his time with Lancs.
I really want Pak to select Sadaf Hussain. I have been waiting for him to selected for a while now.
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