-Don’t worry too much about the Sri Lankan record at the PSS. It is a very formidable one, mind. 5 wins in 7 matches. Including 4 on the trot, SA and India included. Ok so maybe you should worry.

– It must be tempting to try Rauf as an opener but it would serve Pakistan unendingly not to waver. Pakistan haven’t got any other options for openers in the  Squad. Butt and Manzoor are probably the only 2 players who have the mettle, however little it may be, to take on the new ball.

-Younus Khan should get Moyo to farm the deadly bowling of Angelo Mathews.

-Shoaib Malik needs to take Fawad Alam for a night out in one of Sri Lankas road side cafes. The more unhygenic the place looks, the better Maliks chances are of keeping his spot in the team.

-Umar Gul, as we all know now, never left England. Or maybe its the jet lag. But the man is class and as long as he doesn’t go to dinners with Malik and spends his days bunking with Aamer, he should be back.

-Can a brother get a little Danish ‘Cookies’ love up in here. Leg spin doesn’t trouble SL that much but PSS is a good place for spinners. Ajmal didn’t scare anyone in Galle. Sure he got 5 wickets but it included

Samaraweera -1
Thushara -1
Mendis -2
Kulesekara -1

All formidable batsmen in their own right yes, but probably not what Pakistan want from their main spinner.

Aamer- just needs to show up.

Razaaq – Was dropped because he couldn’t find his whites after not playing test cricket for around 345 years. But has got the experience, and the skill to make a difference.

abdul razaq Mohammad Aamer shoaib malik sri lanka v pakistan 2009 umar gul younis khan yousuf

Another fabulous day of test cricket. Pakistan and SL are really living up to the billing of the TEST SERIES OF THE SUMMER.

Sri Lanka

Like we said, were only ever a wicket away from being in the game. And that wicket seemed elusive when Missbaa and Yousuf were pitching tents at the middle.  But Sangakkara kept at it, the bowlers stuck to a game plan and didn’t allow Pakistan to get away. That was important. Had Yousuf and Misbah amped up the scoring rate in their partnership, which they were trying to do late in the post lunch session, SL might have been looking at a lead of over 100.

Props to the SL quicks, and especially Nuwan. I didn’t think his selection over Prasad was the right move. It still probably isn’t on the long run up the dude just keeps doing the work and getting wickets. You cant ignore that.

Herath was a bit unlucky but didn’t have any real zip about him. And Mendis had no real support at the other end. He looked blunt all day. Which is worry given than Pakistan bat last.

SL need 275 plus to make a match of it. And they would need that largely from the top order. If Pakistan get early wickets it is going to be very tough to get any where near that total.

Pakistan

A solid day. Yousuf hasn’t lost his touch. Misbah continues to impress and Shoaib Malik is as annoying as ever. All good things, mind.

The 50 run lead is invaluable and if Aamer can do his first over tricks SL could be in a mess before too long.

But Akmals little innings of 31 could prove to be decisive.  When he came to the middle the lead was 2. So his innings contributed to more than half the lead.  And of the 48 runs that were scored for the last 4 wickets he added 31. He attacked, like he usually does, and for Pakistan, his runs could prove monumentaly important.

Both teams are in this game. And there is no wiff of a draw. Good times.

Play of the day

Angelo Matthews. He is the complete package. After his lovely 40 odd in the first innings. He picked up Younis Khan in his first over. And then cut short Akmals bludgeons with a bulls-eye from Fine leg.

Is there nothing this man can not do ?

Balls of the day

Yousuf. The only man who looked like scoring a hundred, did. Retirement to ICL and back to International cricket. That’s a lot of changes, But Moyo is all class and he hadn’t lost any of it through his roller coaster couple of years.

That takes some special balls. And we applaud them.

ajantha mendis angelo mathews dammika prasad flyslip misbah Mohammad Aamer nuwan kulesekara pakistan v sri lanka sangakkara shoaib malik splendid mendis thilan thushara umar gul younis khan yousuf

And it had been for over 2 days now.

Until the customary ‘late in the 5th day drama’ which intrigues all of us, gets the cricinfo commentators excited but amounts to nothing in the end.

Mahela,as ever, spoke about the positives. Sri Lanka’s batting which has been a worry over the last month had to put up a good performance. So all the big boys put their hands up.

Sangakkara has started a dangerous trend of getting a 50 and then getting out. We know he is capable of the big one, he knows it too. This pitch had 200 written all over it for King Sanga but he let it slip in both innings.

Of course the most impressive of the lot has to be Thilan. He has shot down every myth that surrounds him, that he is no good outside SL, that he is too slow, that he isn’t cool.

Maybe this innings isn’t the best example of his over seas capabilities but the man is scoring runs, for his club, for his country and has almost tripled his SR in the last year or so.

He averages 84 with 3 centuries in the last year. You can’t argue with that.

Tharanga Paranavitana, on debut bagged a golden duck and 9 runs on a pitch where everyone else scored zillion at least. Its a tough initiation but we know the kids got talent.Unfortunately this may have been the best pitch to have made a debut on, ever.

Luckily for him Pakistani debutant, Sohail Khan fared no better, going at 5 and 6 rpo in both innings.

But Wasim Akarams backing him. Who are we to argue with him.

In the end this was more of a triumph for Pakistan than anyone else.

14 months in test wilderness. A new captain. Playing a top team in the world, against two of the best spinners going around.

Pakistan showed they still have the man power to more than compete. Younus seems like the best fit to lead them and is saying all the right things.

He wants Pakistan to be aggressive. Who doesn’t. Long have we waited to see the resurgence of the team that sits on a knife edge of brilliance or utter failure. Pakistan used to be one of my favorite teams, till all the drug scandals and controversies.

Who woudln’t want to see the making of the next Anwar, or Akram or Waquar. The list is endless.

Of course things would be much better if we had a better pitch. Here is hoping for just that.

ajantha mendis mahela jayawardane malinda warnapura sangakkara shoaib malik sri lanka v pakistan test cricket Tharanga Paranavitana tilan samaraweera younis khan

Sri Lanka

Making the best use of a flat pitch Sri Lanka have piled on the runs and misery. It was so good that they broke a world record. So one sided that Thilan scored a double ton. 230 at 72 is something you can hardly ignore.

It has upped his average 3 pts to 48 in a single innings. At one point it looked like SL would bat on till a 1000. Luckily they dint make the same mistakes as England a few days ago.

If Mahela wanted to go out on a high in this two test series, he has already managed that in an innings. 250 was looming when the soon to be ex got out to the already ex captain of Pakistan.

But if this is what Mahela has to offer when he is only thinking about giving up the captaincy, for fucks sake don’t wait till the end of the series,I say give it up now.

After losing 3-30 SL declared, Pakistan put on a swift 40, showing how annoyingly dead the pitch was.

Now the task is up to FLY SlIPS own SPLENDID MENDIS and that guy Murali. Who already has a wicket and is looking threatening.

Pakistan

If Pakistan were watching the highlights today they would have had to fast forward the tape, or dvd a fair distance to see them involved in something positive.

When the opposition pile up 600 runs there usually aren’t any good bowler performances. Pakistan did nothing to remedy that situation.

Kaneria bowled nearly 50 overs for his 3 wickets.

The Pakistani spinners bowled 82 overs for 310 for a return of 5 wickets.Yes, the pitch was slow, and it didn’t offer any help, but Pakistan problem is that they don’t have a bowler that would worry Bangladesh at the moment.

The quicks are steady but there isnt anything special about them.

The spinner(s), Danish ‘Pastry’ Kaneria, didn’t look like creating anything special.

They seem leaderless and Younis khan seems to have disappeared on the field altogether.

The one positive is that this pitch will be the same for their batters, so any sort of partnership on day 3 would mean SL will be facing the same problems.

But at least they have Murali, Mendis, Vass, names that wont necessarily scare the life out of a batting side, but names that know how to get wickets on these types of pitches. There will always be a threat through the day and thats the biggest worry for Pakistan.

Where to now

If Pakistan pick up runs in the morning session and put up a partnership, SL might be facing the same task they did.

The pitch is a shit hole for test cricket, nothing in it for fast bowlers and certainly nothing in it for spinners except slow turn, which is not much of a concern in modern cricket.

With the prospect of this breaking up and Pakistan having to bat last on it, this innings will be vital if they are to save this match.

At the moment a draw looks the best bet, unless Mendis and Murali rip Pakistan apart like they did India a few months ago.

ajantha mendis danish kaneria dilhara dilshan mahela jayawardane mendis murali shoaib malik splendid mendis sri lanka v pakistan tilan samaraweera vass younis khan

Well its been two days since Sri Lanka, humiliated, destroyed, anhilated, smashed, fucked over, rammed one up the rear, to Pakistan.

Couldn’t find anything on it on Well Pitched – our resident Pakistani blog, so I strolled over to Jrods, for surely he wouldn’t miss a chance to the piss out of  a Pakistani demolition. Nothing there either

Arch Nemesis of Sri Lanka – Arm Ball suggests the game was fixed. Not sure whats more funny, that suggestion or the way he misspells Kulesekara (Kulesekhra). What he doesnt know maybe is that Kulesekara’s been in some fine bowling form for the last two years, thats why he averages 20 in 08 and uses the new ball.

Arm ball came here and predicted a whitewash, using his favorite line of  the ‘minnow bashing’ team going to get a taste of their own medicine. He hasn’t been seen around these parts since the 2nd match.

So how did SL win ? Match fixing aside, SL were caught playing with their weeners in the 1st match. Coming off Zim and Bangladesh does that to you. Even in that game SL had a good foundation but their lower order collapsed, they should have got 300, they ended up with 220.

Computer wiz kids were brought in, SWOT analysis were carried out – they dropped Mubarak, brought in Kandamby – a brute of a man, who has been throwing his weight around in the A team and he did the same to Pakistan, the key was his SR, he dint get a bit score but he scored runs at a rate and helped the man at the other end do the same.

In the decisive game, Pakistan would have expected SL to come out guns blazing like they did in the 1st two, they dint, instead they crawled to 50 in 13 overs but without the loss of any wickets. And then Dilshan just took over, from being dropped for the Bangladesh tour in the ODIs, to winning MOTS, Dilshan has come full circle.

Its as good as he has ever looked and the Kirsten and his staff have a new threat to look at.

The Sanath – Dilshan combination just worked. Sanath might be old, and we may not want him in the team, but he still puts fear in bowlers, if he gets it right, SL are 75% on their way to a win. Dilshan was picked on form – what great reasoning by our selectors, and all the planets just aligned.

The last 2 years and 2008 in particular has been a year for SL’s bowlers, and in the last two games SL showed what they are capable of if they are backed up by their batsmen. Big centuries help, but in ODIs, partnerships are more valuable. And in the last 2 games SL had them all over the place.

Dilshan- Sanath

Kandamby-Dilshan/Sanga

Nuwan-Thushara

Mendis-Murali.

Right now Mahela is the only liability in the batting. But he is good against India and makes love to SL pitches in the dead of night.

Maybe a lot of people were surprised that Pakistan were routed but bettering 310 against Splendid Mendis, Murali, Nuwan and Thushara is not an easy task these days. With Malinga to come and Maharoof finding his feet again SL has put together a very decent outfit.

Pakistan have a good team but they are led by a feeble captain, who doesnt inspire much. Afridi just annoys the fuck out of me. He is useless as a batsmen and is as reliable as Mahela right now. Aktars days are numbered, Tanvir has to be the guy to lead the attack with Gul, who could be the Mitchelle Johnson of Pakistan. And for godsake find a spinner !

ajantha mendis dilshan mahela jayawardane murali nuwan kulesekara pakistan pakistan cricket pakistan v sri lanka shoaib akthar shoaib malik tanvir thilina kandamby umar gul