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The tale of anxiety and fear

Pakistan’s fortress was on the line. Misbah and Younus’s had retired and this young team had failed to chase 135 in the 4th innings  in the 1st Test. With just 2 tests (thanks to financial considerations), Pakistan were chasing the game. Sri Lanka scored near 500 in the 1st innings, while Pakistani batsmen, strutted to 262. Sri Lanka could have enforced the follow on but they didn’t. Wahab Riaz, who literally couldn’t complete his run up in the 1st innings, became a monster in the 2nd.  Sri Lanka were all out for 96. Pakistan needed 317. A glimmer of hope or not? At 52 for 5, Pakistan were done. But Asad Shafiq and the new captain, stood up.

As the ball went soft, so did Sri Lanka. The pair from Karachi yielded easy runs with the fields wide open. Sri Lanka simply waited for the new ball, perhaps for more than 20 overs. Pakistan needed less than 100 runs at the 78th over point. In trying to cut down the target before the new ball, Sarfraz swept one straight to deep fine leg. Sri Lanka won it easily with 68 runs.

While, it wasn’t as easy for Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess, to a degree it did feel like Pakistan were waiting for the new ball. It was a sunny, hot day by London standards. It didn’t swing much anyway. The reverse Amir and Abbas got, stopped as the ball got soft. Shadab, for whatever reason wasn’t really hitting the spot regularly enough. Pakistan went into retreat. And perhaps with good reason.

England, had the best of batting conditions on a placid day 3 wicket, without any cloud cover. They ended the day 235-6. Any bowling team would take it gleefully. They are practically 56-6 and the new ball is 2 overs away. For all of Pakistan’s excellent cricket, this is an inexperienced attack. As Islamabad United’s manager Rehan ul Haq highlighted, Cook and Anderson have collectively played 68 more test than the combined number of Pakistan’s 11. It was a fantastic day of cricket from Pakistan. Sarfraz was spot on with his captaincy, attacking at the right times and going on the defence when necessary. That catch he took, reduced fears about a drop in keeping standards.

Asad Shafiq, the stroke maker

The anxiety and fears of fans are based on recent history. Pakistan has failed to play out matches or win them in the 4th innings. But we did win one albeit against Ireland. recently. With the new ball around the corner, Pakistan would ideally want to get them out pretty soon. But even if we get a score of around 150, batsmen should be able to get them. We cannot simply play 1 innings and expect to win. Even with Babar out, I expect this team to prevail. They deserve a lot of luck for their hard work. Our fears will go away, soon.

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