After rain played spoilsport in cricket’s homecoming to Pakistan, the two teams will now lock horns in the second and final Test at the National Stadium, in Karachi. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have met each other 54 times in the longest format of the game. The hosts have the lead here having won 19 of these encounters while Sri Lanka have been on the winning side 16 times. In the last five Tests though, the head-to-head record is 3-1 in Sri Lanka’s favour.
Ground Details and Team Combination
The National Stadium will be hosting its first Test since 2009. In first-class matches played at this venue since the start of 2017, pacers have easily been the dominant entity. Out of 310 wickets that fell in these games, fast bowlers picked up 228 wickets and spinners 82. Pacers picked up a wicket in every 52.8 deliveries whereas spinners have spent 72.4 deliveries to pick a wicket. So, you should ideally go with a side packed with fast bowlers.
As we have mentioned, pacers have been highly effective at this venue over the last three years or so. Among them, though the left arm pacers have taken 60 wickets in comparison to right arm pacers’ 168 wickets, the left-armers have picked up a wicket in every 45.43 deliveries in comparison to right-handers who have picked up a wicket in every 55.5 deliveries. It will be ideal to pick pacers but at the same time focus on the left-hand pacers.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Sri Lanka’s Vishwa Fernando are some of the options you can consider for your team. Right-arm leg-spinners have also done fairly well here and someone like Yasir Shah could be a potential option in your side.
A combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, one all-rounder, one spinner and four fast bowlers could be the way to go for this Test.
Babar Azam has already proven what a phenomenal white-ball player he is but slowly and steadily, he is becoming a giant in red-ball cricket as well. Possibly Pakistan’s most dependable batsman in the format, the right-hander has scored more runs than any other Pakistan batsman since the start of 2018. While all other batsmen failed in Australia, Babar stood tall and followed it up with another power-packed century in the first Test against Sri Lanka. Babar’s name does not always prop up when the fab four gets discussed but the way he is going, it should not take him long to get there.
Dimuth Karunaratne is easily their best batter in the format and the numbers back him. The left-hander has scored 486 runs in seven Tests this year and is Sri Lanka's highest run-getter in the format. Karunaratne's record against Pakistan is also excellent. In 17 innings, Karunaratne has recorded 881 runs at an average of 55.06. He looked in good touch in the first Test too where he scored a half-century and will look to carry his form going into Karachi.
Shaheen Shah Afridi does not always hog the limelight but the youngster has in a very short span of time made quite a name for himself. In six Tests, Afridi has returned 19 wickets picking a wicket every 59.7 balls. Left-arm pacers have traditionally done well in Karachi and Afridi might just be the trump card Pakistan need. He looked good in Rawalpindi and will look to make early in-roads in Karachi.
Mohammad Abbas might not have had a good time in South Africa and Australia but in the subcontinent conditions, he is a different beast altogether. In just 13 innings in the subcontinent, Abbas has 28 wickets striking every 50.6 deliveries. Another key feature of his bowling is reverse swing, which the abrasive Karachi surface should offer. He did not get to have much of a bowl in Rawalpindi and after a poor year with the ball will want to finish 2019 on a high.
After a soggy first Test in Rawalpindi, the weather in Karachi is much better. It is expected to be slightly cloudy across the five days of the Test but chances of rain is minimal. The temperature is likely to hover around the lower 25-degree range on all five days.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Abid Ali, Babar Azam (c), Asad Shafiq (vc), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Shinwari , Vishwa Fernando.