Stakes High As Pakistan Look To Defend Proud UAE Record

Pakistan have never lost a Test series in the UAE since making it their adopted home in 2010. Six teams have tried previously, and six teams have failed, Sri Lanka included. They have stonewalled, barricaded, intimidated, junkyard dog-ed, dust bowl-ed, and have done whatever necessary to maintain their stranglehold. While swathes of empty blue and white chairs were bearing witness, Pakistan were progressing. They were moving slowly, sometimes painfully slowly, but they were moving. And that progress eventually got them to the top of the Test rankings, albeit briefly. Now, with two of their most trusted battle commanders gone, an innocuous and familiar enemy has suddenly become overwhelming. The fortress is under siege.

There is so much to play for in the second and final Test in Dubai. It will be the first day-night Test that Sri Lanka will be a part of, and they can commemorate it by attaining a historic series win. The visitors probably surprised even themselves by what happened in Abu Dhabi. After all their struggles at home against India - plunging to record whitewashes - which led to resignations of their selectors, then losing Angelo Mathews to injury; to come back from all that and beat Pakistan at a venue they have never lost in, it was incredible.

What wasn't surprising, though, was how the win was achieved. Rangana Herath unfailingly delivered the goods on the final day yet again, becoming the first left-arm spinner to bring up 400 Test wickets in history. Also, Pakistan panicked in the face of pressure - not for the first time. Herath's threat won't be dissipating one bit, he'll remain the same. It will be the Pakistan batting unit which will have to find ways of countering him.

"This is a young batting line-up obviously trying to find their way," was Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur's best attempt at trying to make sense of what had transpired on a crazy final day. He's right though. It will be hard to come to terms with the post Mis-You era, but there's no way around it. And there's no better time to groom their young batsmen than right here, right now. The pitch in Dubai shouldn't play a whole lot differently than Abu Dhabi, so there are runs to be had again. That said, it will be interesting to see if Sri Lanka face any difficulties in adapting to the nuances of a day-night Test.

Team news:

Pakistan

It was one bad day which cost Pakistan the first Test; not even that, it was probably a couple of bad sessions. As such, the panic button shouldn't be pressed. The same XI could take the field in Dubai, hoping to keep their proud record intact, but Pakistan are forced to make a change owing to Hasan Ali's troublesome glute. Without wanting to risk it, the management have decided to rest him and have called in Wahab Riaz instead. However, the combination for the game hasn't been decided upon just yet.

Sri Lanka

Angelo Mathews, who missed the first Test, has now been ruled out of the second as well due to his calf injury. Sadeera Samarawickrama, though, could make his Test debut in Dubai as vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne is struggling with back stiffness.

Squads:

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Usman Salahuddin, Mohammad Asghar, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Wahab Riaz

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(c), Niroshan Dickwella(w), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Roshen Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Gamage

Courtesy:Cricbuzz

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