Misbah wanted to give coach a winning send-off
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq wanted to give coach Dav Whatmore a winning send-off after the team pulled off a five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka on Monday in the third test to level the series 1-1.
Pakistan chased down 302-5 in 57.3 overs in one of test cricket’s fastest ever run-chases with Azhar Ali scoring 103 off 137 balls and Misbah making an unbeaten 68 off 72 deliveries.
Whatmore had said two months ago he would leave the job to spend time with his family after the test series against Sri Lanka.
“I was really praying we should win it for Pakistan and win it for Dav so that we can say we have given him a good send-off,” Misbah said.
During Whatmore’s two-year tenure, Pakistan competed in five test series but couldn’t win against Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
South Africa whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 at home in early 2013 before Pakistan managed to draw 1-1 against the Proteas in the return series in the United Arab Emirates late last year.
Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan at home soon after Whatmore took over in 2012 before drawing on Monday.
Pakistan was expected to beat lowly ranked Zimbabwe last year but it stumbled to lose the second test and the series was tied 1-1.
But Misbah said the team wanted to give the Australian coach one more victory and despite being set a stiff target in the last two sessions they never thought of going for the draw.
“It’s always important because he had been working with us for the last two years,” Whatmore said. “We have attachment and you always want this type of thing (victory) when somebody leaves you.”
Pakistan made three vital changes after Sri Lanka went 1-0 up with a nine-wicket win at Dubai.
Ali, left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman and fast bowler Mohammad Talha all made their marks after being ignored for the first two test matches.
Rehman tied down Sri Lanka batsmen in the second innings with 4-56 and restricted The Lions to 214.
Talha, playing his first test match after five years, took six wickets in the match and rightly replaced an unimpressive Rahat Ali, who took only two wickets in the first two test matches.
But the biggest impact was made by Ali, who was surprisingly dropped for the first two test matches despite being a regular test member since 2010.
Misbah said his team had made up their minds to go all out for victory, no matter if they had lost the test and the series 2-0.
“We sat together (during lunch) and clearly decided we are going for it at any cost, no matter if we lose the series 2-0,” Misbah said.
Misbah promoted Sarfraz Ahmed ahead of him and the diminutive batsman, who was only drafted into the squad after wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal was injured in the first test, didn’t disappoint with a vital knock of 48 off 46 balls.
“It was easy for us once Sarfraz played that innings with Azhar Ali,” Misbah said. “They also cut down the target to 120-odd and it was simple, we didn’t let the target go up more than run-a-ball.”
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews blamed his batsmen for squandering a chance to win its first away test series in six years.
“We played really well in the last three and a half days but our batting messed it up today ... we couldn’t get a good lead,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s last away win in test series was in Bangladesh in 2008. It looked to have upper hand when it declared its first innings at 428-9 before faltering on the last day by conceding astonishing 195 in the last session.
But Mathews defended his bowlers on a flat wicket.
“We went wrong in our batting and not our bowlers,” he said. “It was a very good batting wicket and we all saw that how good the wicket played ... the batters couldn’t do well and that cost us the series.”