A test that played out in a similar manner to the first, without the heroics of Sangakarra. Umar Gul made early in-roads into the Sri Lankan lineup, leaving the spinners to close out the innings. Pakistan again batted patiently, a far cry from a year ago, led by Azhar Ali's even ton, with the Sri Lankan bowlers again struggling. In the second innings Sri Lanka threatened briefly to post a difficult target, but noone went on. Mathews was stranded, although he wasn't scoring fast enough for it to matter, and the honours went to Saeed Ajmal. Wasting no time, Pakistan scored the runs before stumps on day four to take the series lead.
The result pushes Pakistan ahead of Sri Lanka on the rankings, with the latter needing to win the final test by 140 runs to regain 5th place. On recent form, and with Pakistan apparently at ease with the test format, it is unlikely Sri Lanka can achieve anything better than a draw.
Like Bangladesh against the West Indies, this is the kind of match Zimbabwe should look to win, if they are to work their way back into favour, and more favourable tours (though I have my doubts that will ever happen). The absence of Ryder and Taibu will be felt by both camps, but probably balances out. Zimbabwe have shown in their first few tests back that their bowling has some spark, and they'll probably match what New Zealand can bring to the contest. Whether their batting can produce enough runs is doubtful; their admirable discipline in the last few games led to an absence of shots as well. New Zealand are not that strong in that department either, but strong enough, especially as Williamson continues to develop.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 1st November, 2011 14:34:41 [#]