Flat wicket disappoints Misbah
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was disappointed Sunday with the pitch in Dubai after his team went 1-0 down in the three-match series when Sri Lanka completed an emphatic 9-wicket victory in the second test.
“It’s surprising that there was no break here on the pitch,” Misbah said.
“Normally the pitches here help spinners on the second or third day, but even on the fifth day the pitch didn’t spin and it’s surprising.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board last month flew in its director Intikhab Alam, a former captain of the national side, to see what type of pitches were prepared.
“Obviously groundsmen are preparing pitches but as far as (my) satisfaction is concerned, it’s not there,” Misbah said.
Pakistan’s leading offspinner Saeed Ajmal, who had taken 34 wickets in Dubai in his last five test matches, could get only three in the second test.
Ajmal has so far bowled 114.2 overs in the two test matches for his five wickets and conceded 248 runs.
He bowled 49 wicketless overs in the second innings of the first test at Abu Dhabi where Sri Lanka fought back through captain Angelo Mathews’ career-best unbeaten 157 to force Pakistan to settle for a draw.
“We are not getting support (from the wicket) as per our strength, and that’s a worry for us,” Misbah said.
Pakistan seamers also look ineffective in the absence of 7-foot-1 (2.16-meter) Mohammad Irfan, who was ruled out of the series due to a hip injury.
Pakistan has also sent back fast bowler Umar Gul to get more test match fitness after playing the paceman in three one-day internationals against Sri Lanka last month. Gul returned to international cricket after seven months out following knee surgery in Australia.
A hamstring injury also ruled out Bilawal Bhatti from bowling on Sunday as Sri Lanka successfully chased down the victory target to finish at 137-1 at tea.
Left-arm Junaid Khan has to shoulder the burden in the absence of Irfan and Gul and has taken 11-287 in two tests from 102 overs. However, he has got virtually no support from the other end with seamer Rahat Ali conceding 293 runs in two tests after bowling 101.3 overs for only two wickets.
It was surprising that Pakistan persisted with Ali in the second test after the leftarmer returned wicketless in the first test.
Misbah believed the toss also played a crucial role in his team’s poor performance as Sri Lanka put Pakistan into bat.
“Once we lost the toss there was lot of moisture on the pitch and we could not really get back in the test match,” Misbah said.
Sri Lanka seamers Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga shared the top seven wickets between them before Rangana Herath mopped up the tail with three wickets to bowl out Pakistan for 165.
“We also played some indisciplined shots and that put us in trouble (in the first innings),” Misbah said.
Led by Misbah’s 97 and half centuries from Younis Khan (77) and Sarfraz Ahmed (74), Pakistan managed to push the game into the fifth day for a lead of 137 runs.
But Misbah said he was expecting a bit more from his batsmen in the second innings after Sri Lanka established a 223-run lead.
“The pitch was very flat, there wasn’t any turn or help for the fast bowlers,” Misbah said. “We still could have done better than that.”