At 148/9, Pakistan were in a whole lot of trouble in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka. However, a crucial 70-run partnership between the visiting skipper, Babar Azam and the No.11, Naseem Shah took the visitors to just four runs shy of Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 222. On testing conditions at Galle, Pakistan were set a target of 342.
It required a scintillating batting from Abdullah Shafique, who already has shown his class as an opener for the visitors. The right-hander brought up his highest Test score, 160*, helping Pakistan to a record four-wicket win at Galle. In the post-match presentation, the winning skipper Babar Azam credited both Shafique and Shah’s efforts from respective innings.
“First innings we did well with the ball. I should thank the tail-enders for the support they game me, especially Naseem Shah. We know how to play spin so we believed. Me and Abdullah were just trying to build a partnership. As a youngster he is showing a lot of class. Really pleasing to see him perform well,” said Azam.
Shafique opened up on his approach, saying that it became easier to tackle the spinners with the old-ball and insisted that Pakistan were always going for the run chase at the venue.
“I am happy that we were able to chase. Congratulations to the entire team for this record chase. Our plan was simple. We had to go get the runs. It was difficult but with time it was easier. Spinners with the new ball was slightly tough to play. Babar is one of the best in the world. We have learnt so much from him. I enjoyed batting with him in the middle,” said Shafique.
Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne rued the missed opportunity, stating that the bowlers should have backed the left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya, who bowled 56 overs in the second innings, picking up four wickets.
“With the ball we could not support Prabath from the other end. We had to give him more support. Naseem supported Babar really well. The pitch went a bit flat at that point, but as a bowling unit we need to give more support to Prabath. He is capable of bowling a lot of overs,” Karunaratne reflected.