Second Test preview: Pakistan v Sri Lanka


Pakistan had the better of the opening Test, but their bowlers may struggle to get themselves up for the challenge again on another graveyard of a pitch.

Just four days after a taxing Test match in the hot, batsman-friendly conditions of Abu Dhabi, Pakistan and Sri Lanka return to the middle to do it all again just down the road in Dubai.

Both sides will take their positives out of the opening encounter, but while Sri Lanka's players have been eager to claim that saving the Test has given them the upper hand and momentum, behind the scenes there must be huge cause for concern that they got themselves into the position they did. In the end they were just thankful that Pakistan couldn't take their catches.

Pakistan's bowlers undoubtedly deserved the most credit for creating as many chances as they did on a flat wicket, not to mention the fact that they took 20 wickets, but they may well find it difficult to get themselves back up for another similar challenge.

As the pitch report will tell you, wickets cost more than 50 apiece during last year's Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Dubai, and there were just three dismissals over the course of the last two days.

Another bowler's graveyard and another draw would leave two knackered attacks for the final Test in Sharjah, so barring another underwhelming show from Sri Lanka's batsmen a 0-0 series draw is not unlikely.

It would be no surprise if changes for the second Test are therefore made to the bowling attacks as both sides look to keep things relatively fresh. Aizaz Cheema bowled a fine spell on day one but struggled thereafter, and could well make way for Wahab Riaz.

Riaz hasn't played an international since May, but has kept himself busy in domestic cricket in both England and Pakistan and should be eager to return to the side after he was rested for the tour of Zimbabwe.

Sri Lanka will probably look to bring in an extra spinner – most likely Suraj Randiv – in place of either Nuwan Pradeep or Suranga Lakmal. Even South Africa played two spinners in Dubai in their pre-Imran Tahir days, and Paul Harris and Johan Botha were both able to have some success and get through plenty of overs and allow their seamers the odd full-blooded burst.

Naturally Pakistan will be looking for a better fielding performance as Misbah-ul-Haq seeks to keep his record alive – Pakistan have not lost a series under his captaincy – and will be confident that their batting line-up can come up with the runs.

His opposite number Tillakaratne Dilshan is under the cosh having failed to win a Test in seven attempts, and with just one half-century to his name in his last four Tests.

<B>Key Men<br>Pakistan:</B> Reverse swing could be the most potent weapon available to bowlers in Dubai, and no-one can be more deadly with it than <b>Umar Gul</b>. He was a touch unlucky at times in Abu Dhabi, but could make his experience count in the second Test.

<B>Sri Lanka:</B> Dilshan's bowlers managed just seven wickets in the whole of the first Test, which is a huge concern as they try and build an attack in the wake of Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement. They need someone to lead from the front, and for the moment <b>Rangana Herath</b> looks the most likely candidate, particularly in UAE conditions.

<B>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</B><br>October 2011, First Test at Abu Dhabi: Match drawn<Br>July 2009, Third Test at SSC: Match drawn<Br>July 2009, Second Test at PSS: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets<br>July 2009, First Test at Galle: Sri Lanka won by 50 runs<br>March 2009, Second Test at Lahore: Match drawn

<b>Prediction</b><Br>Even a batting collapse in one innings is unlikely to prevent a <b>draw</b>.

Online betting firm <a href='' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sky Bet</b></a> have the draw at an attractive 10/11. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</B></a>.

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><I>Pakistan:</i> Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (wk), Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan.

<i>Sri Lanka:</i> Tharanga Paranavitana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Chanaka Welegedera, Suraj Randiv.

<B>Dates:</B> 26 – 30 October<BR><B>Morning session:</B> 10:00-12:00 (06:00-08:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (08:40-10:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (11:00-13:00 GMT)

<B>On-field umpires:</b><BR>Tony Hill and Shahvir Tarapore<Br><b>Third umpire:</b> PCB appointment<Br>Match referee: David Boon