Sri Lanka will depend largely on slow left arm orthodox bowler Prabath Jayasuriya as the ace in the pack to deliver against Pakistan in the first Test starting on Saturday the 16th at the Galle International Stadium, fresh in his nostrils of his record debut 12-wicket demolition of Australia at the same venue a few days ago. The predictable battle of spin between the two sides will of course, pit Pakistan’s 36-year old veteran leggie Yasir Shah in that thrust for supremacy having bowled Pakistan to a 2-1 series triumph when the two sides last met in Sri Lanka.
However, while the Galle venue is known to favour spin as the pitch deteriorates, it has also proved to be quite batting conducive as well over the years and as demonstrated by the high run harvests like the 554 when Dimuth Karunaratne’s charges inflicted an innings and 39-run defeat on Australia in the second Test. And, visa versa when the Aussies had it easy over the Lankans in the first Test. In that balanced tide, the two sides batting strengths will take centre stage to gaining the upper hand.
Therein it will be as much a tussle to the better side dictating the course of the game with the bat. Sri Lanka’s massive leverage over the strong Australians whose sizable first innings 364 in the second Test with two centuries tucked into it by Steve Smith and Marcus Labuschagne was undone will be a potential buoyant factor when they take on the Pakistanis. Key to the Lankan batting will be whether it’s batsmen would come good with same run grafting
craft that toppled the Australians.
Significantly, it was a victory won by a makeshift side that was minus some of its regular players hit by the Corona pandemic. While the top order clicked bar opener Pathum Nissanka, there were two positive discoveries in young debutant Kamindu Mendis who scored a stroke filled 61 while Ramesh Mendis chipped in with both bat and ball. While he accounted for some key Aussie batsmen, his 98-ball 29 was tall lower order stuff in helping double centurion Dinesh Chandimal to bat out the opposition.
Meanwhile, Pakistan boasts of a star studded batting line up led by its dashing captain Babar Azam who has already made the record books for his run accumulation. He gave a glimpse of his batting prowess when he struck 88 in the drawn warm up game against the SLC XI. Adding the impetus is Azhar Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Agha Salman and Saud Shakeel all who were among the runs in the tour opener.