The Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo, Sri Lanka is and has always been a batting den. When Sri Lanka and Pakistan met here for the second Test 5 days ago, it was obvious that whoever won the toss would no doubt elect to bat first. Pakistan had been on thin ice showing horrendous form in the series and another lacklusture performance would have certainly meant major changes in the squad. The Lankans had beaten the visitors fair and square in the first Test and were hopeful to make it 2-0 to seal the series.
The scoresPakistan 551/6 dec & 100/2 dec.
Sri Lanka 391 allout & 86/2 in 22 ovs.
Full scorecard : 2nd test, SSC, July 2012.
Once this second test started, as mentioned earlier, the toss winners were definitely going to choose to bat, but to the surprise of a lot of people, Sri Lanka won it and chose to field instead. There might have been a reason behind this choice, but whatever it was, it certainly didn’t pan out the way the hosts had expected.
On an almost flat track, Pakistan had it easy, making their way to 334 for the loss of just one wicket, with Hafeez and Azhar Ali standing tall as the day was called. It had been a frustrating day for the Lankan bowlers, who had had absolutely no help from the pitch.
Day 2 had been pretty similar as well. Hafeez fell 4 runs short of a double-ton and Azhar Ali went on to make a beautiful 157. The rains had interrupted play once in the afternoon, but after the game started again, it wasn’t long before it started pouring again. Play was stopped and it was announced that the game would start 15 minutes earlier on day 3.
The skies were the same on the next day as well, but the play carried on, with Pakistan declaring at 551 for 6, shortly after Pak skipper Misbah-ul-Haq had reached his half-century. The frustration for Sri Lanka continued and after playing just 15 overs in their innings, the rains returned, stopping play for the day. Lanka were 70 for 1, losing Paranavitana for a duck.
Day 4 saw clearer skies, and with that came the amazing partnership of Dilshan and Sangakkara. Records were broken by the latter as well. Sangakkara reached 2000 runs at the stadium and became the highest run scorer against Pakistan in Tests with his 30th test century. Dilshan notched up his 14th. Showers hit the day again after they stopped, it was decided that play would be extended till 5:45 pm. Dilshan and Sangakkara both got their centuries 2 overs apart. Pakistan ended the day high a high though, getting 3 quick wickets, the one of Randiv on the last ball of the day. Sri Lanka were 278-5.
The final day of play saw the teams hurrying to try and get something out of the otherwise drab match. After Sangakkara fell for 192, becoming only 3rd player to miss double century in consecutive innings, no other partnerships worked.
Pakistan’s Junaid Khan had got himself a 5 wicket haul, and the Lankans were all out for 391, narrowly crossing the follow-on target.
Pakistan’s batsmen came onto the field, and after a quick-fire 100 for the loss on 2 wickets in 18 overs, declared. It was a strong decision from Pakistan’s captain Misbah-ul-Haq, but calculated one, no doubt, specially because he sent his batsmen after tea break just to eat up 8 balls!
The Lankans tried to get going quick and make something of it, but managed to get to 86 for 2, before the skippers from both teams shook hands and called it a draw.
The bowling by Junaid Khan was definitely a plus point to his team, and he was made Man of the Match. The pitch was brilliant for batting, and in conditions like this, one usually can’t expect anything more than a draw, unless one of the teams put forth a miracle.
Pakistan have shown huge signs of improvement here, both in batting and bowling. Will they be able to carry it forth and try to salvage something out of the series? The third and final Test match will be held at the Pallekele stadium, starting on the 8th of July.
FactSSC dished out it's 13th draw but it's no where the most un-result oriented test venue in the world. The ground with most percentage of draws with at least 36 tests hosted (equal to SSC) is Gaddafi stadium in Lahore which has had 22 draws from 40 test = 0.55%. Eden Gardens in India = 0.51% (37 tests, 19 draws) and Eden Park in Auckland = 0.48% (47 tests, 23 draws).