Review: 1st Test Pakistan v Sri Lanka – Debutante Abid Ali shines for Pakistan
After three days of sheer frustration when only 23.4 overs’ play was possible, the Sunday crowd at Rawalpindi Stadium, had plenty to cheer about. The two hundreds – both significant – by Abid Ali and Babar Azam, were savoured all around, before the play was finally called off, due to bad light at 4.23pm with Pakistan 252-2 in their first innings. The match ending in a draw with both teams awarded 20 points each for the ICC World Test Championship and now heading to Karachi for the deciding Test match.
Sri Lanka – 308 - 6 dec - (97 overs) – (Dimuth Karunaratne 59, Dhananjaya de Silva 102*; Shaheen Afridi 2-58)
Pakistan – 252-2 - (70 Ovs) – (Abid Ali 109*, Babar Azam 102*; Kasun Rajitha 1-5)
Result – Match Drawn
A sunny morning allowed the ground authorities at Rawalpindi to take off covers as Sri Lanka resumed their first innings. Once Dhananjaya de Silva reached his ton with a sweetly timed off drive boundary off Mohammad Abbas, as expected, a declaration was announced with the score at 308-6. de Silva’s innings was one of quality, spread over five days (including a fourth day wash out). He came to bat when Sri Lanka were clearly on the back foot with 127-4 on the opening day and would cherish the way he battled out to finish with 102 not out off 166 balls with 15 fours.
A declaration by the visitors gave Pakistan batsmen the opportunity to bat out potentially 91 overs. With no sight of forfeiting by either team, the rest of the day could be termed as glorified net session for both teams. The in-form Shan Masood missed out, as he was caught off Kasun Rajitha, without scoring, pushing a full-toss straight to mid-off. Captain Azhar Ali, short of runs lately, had started to find his timing before he too departed, courtesy of a soft dismissal, clipping a catch to mid-wicket on 36 off Lahiru Kumara. Azhar in company with debutante, Abid Ali, had added 87 runs for the second wicket.
The 32-year old Abid Ali, having being on the fringe for a red-ball opportunity had been called in by Misbah-ul-Haq, chief selector and head coach, due to indifferent form of left-handed opening pair -Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq. Short and stocky, Abid was unbeaten on 91 at tea, now mindful of just nine runs shy of creating history for no batsman had ever scored a debut hundred in two international formats.
Short and stocky, with a touch circumspect on the short ball today against an average seam ball attack, he reached a fifty off 95 balls with captain Azhar to admire from the other end. His achievement today ahead of Majid Khan, Salim Malik and Mohammad Yousuf – three of the finest batsmen produced by his home city Lahore, in the last half century – is bound to bring an extra smile to his face.
In March Abid had hit 112 against Australia at Dubai in an ODI and now at Rawalpindi at 3.49pm he wrote his name in the record books. A push through the covers off Vishwa Fernando making him the first ever batsman to reach three figures in ODI and Test. A worthy batting milestone in view of the great batsmanship that has been on display, ever since first ODI was played in 1971.
Abid, prior to 2016, had only moderate figures in first-class cricket and till his late twenties seemed unlikely to nudge the selectors for senior international cricket. His achievement making him the 12th Pakistani, after Khalid Ibadullah (1964), Javed Miandad (1976), Salim Malik (1982), Mohammed Wasim (1996), Ali Naqvi (1997), Azhar Mahmood (1997). Younis Khan (2000), Taufeeq Umar (2001), Yasir Hameed (2003), Fawad Alam (2009) and Umar Akmal (2009), to reach three figures on Test debut. What a turn around for the Lahore batsman.
In his present form, Babar Azam, can outscore any of his team mates and Abid was no exception. The debutante, very rightly, was sharply focused on his own game and was happy to be closing on, an opportunity of a lifetime. There was no scoreboard or match situation pressure as he enjoyed batting in glorious sunshine in his country’s first home Test in 10 years. He showed how much Pakistan crowd has missed watching Babar and company bat ‘live’, in the past decade.
Now on his way to securing No.4 Test match slot for Pakistan, Babar was his usual self, silky and eager to dominate. Right from the outset he looked determined to post a score on his first ever Test in front of home crowd. For a change even after scoring a hundred, he was upstaged by the debutant Abid. He reached his fifty off 70 balls with 7 fours and accelerated to reach three figures in style and end with an unbeaten 102 off 128 balls with 14 exquisite hits to the fence. The third wicket stand between the two centurions was worth 162 runs.
Pakistan - Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali(c), Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan(wk), Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi
Sri Lanka - Dimuth Karunaratne(c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella(wk), Dilruwan Perera, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara
Start Time: 04:45
Toss: Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat
Venue: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi
Officials: Michael Gough, Richard Kettleborough, Richard Illingworth, Shozab Raza, Andrew Pycroft
©Cricket World 2019