Throwback to Sri Lanka’s last visit to the United Arab Emirates

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The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) 15 man squad left the island on Sunday(24) to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) for their two match test series beginning on the 28th of September in Abu Dhabi. We go down memory lane to Sri Lanka’s last visit to the UAE where an enthralling series ended at 1-1. 

1st test at Abu Dhabi on 31 Dec,2013 – 4 Jan 2014

The test series kicked off in Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka was sent into bat in helpful conditions for the seamers by the Pakistani skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq and it proved to be a brilliant decision.

Sri Lanka scrambled their way through to 204 all out in 65 overs on the opening day with Angelo Mathews fighting a lone battle making 91. As expected the Pakistani seamers were the chief destroyers sharing 8 wickets between them(Junaid Khan 5/58, Bilawal Bhatti 3/65).

Pakistan secured a 179 run lead in reply with their recently retired batting greats Younis Khan and Misbah-Ul-Haq both scoring centuries. They were involved in a 218 run partnership for the 4th wicket which proved to be crucial as Pakistan made 383 all out.

Sri Lanka needed to bat out of their skin to save this game and they sure did with their young captain leading from the front once again. It was a knock which showed his maturity as a player and captain as he batted for 454 minutes making an unbeaten 157* guiding Sri Lanka to safety as they eventually decided to declared their innings on 480/5.

Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal and Prasanna Jayawardena also made valuable half centuries as Pakistan was set 302 for victory, before they decided to play it safe for a draw.

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2nd test at Dubai on 8-12 Jan, 2014

The tendency to win the toss and field first continued as this time it was Sri Lanka who won the toss and decided to do so. Sri Lanka decided to play the extra seamer in Nuwan Pradeep in place of Sachithra Senanayake and it proved to be a tactical masterpiece as their fast bowlers shared 7 wickets among them to bundle out Pakistan for 165.

In reply, Mahela Jayawardene hit a classy century to secure a 223 run lead for Sri Lanka, while Kaushal Silva was unfortunate to miss out on a gritty century, falling for 95.

The Pakistanis made the Sri Lankans toil in their 2nd innings as they took the game to the 5th day thanks to a valiant 97 off 248 balls by their skipper, Misbah-Ul-Haq. They started day five with a crucial 107 run lead with Sarfraz Ahmed unbeaten on a half century but folded up fast setting Sri Lanka 137 to win. It were the fast bowlers who did the damage onceagain sharing eight second innings wickets, with Suranga Lakmal being the pick of the bowlers capturing 4/78.

Sri Lanka hardly had any trouble in their run chase as Kaushal Silva hit his second half century of the match while ‘the second innings hero’ Dimuth Karunaratne went on to make an unbeaten 62* as Sri Lanka secured a 9 wicket win to go 1-0 in the series.

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3rd test at Sharjah on Jan 16-20, 2014

Sri Lanka needed a draw or a win to secure the series win and they made things easier putting up 428/9 declared in their first innings after winning the toss and electing to bat first at Sharjah.

Sri Lanka predicted the pitch to take spin and decided to tinker with their winning XI leaving out Nuwan Pradeep. Dilruwan Perera who was on debut playing as the second spinner in the team, surprised many as he hit an epic 95 off 247 balls.

Kumar Sangakkara also chipped in with 52 but skipper Angelo Mathews fell short of a century once again being dismissed for 91 off the bowling of Junaid Khan.

Pakistan dug deep but only managed 341 all out in reply, on the back of an outstanding knock of 147 by Ahmed Shahzad and half centuries from Misbah-Ul-Haq and Khurram Manzoor. Rangana Herath finally got into the act with his first five wicket haul in the series for Sri Lanka.

With just over 5 sessions left in the game, and a 87 run lead, Sri Lanka looked well on course to clinch the series but the Pakistani bowlers were not willing to give up. They bowled their hearts out to reduce Sri Lanka to 133/5 when the stumps were drawn on day 4.

Sri Lanka entered day five with an overall lead of 220 on a wearing pitch and Prasanna Jayawardena(49) put on a valuable 62 run stand for the 6th wicket with Angelo Mathews(31) before Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 214 setting Pakistan 302 to win at an asking rate close to five runs per an over.

Pakistan took on the challenge with nothing much to lose in the series. Azhar Ali hit a timely century to set things up for Pakistan before Misbah-Ul-Haq hit an unbeaten  almost run a ball 68* to guide Pakistan home and level the series at 1-1.

Suranga Lakmal picked up three wickets but Pakistan accelerated brilliantly towards the latter stages hitting the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ground to secure a dramatic five wicket win.