Pakistan have a penchant for pulling off the improbable, doing what no one expects them to do. They almost did it again in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dubai, when at one stage they looked like they would chase down the target of 317 after conceding a 220-run lead in the first innings.
Apart from the Centurion Test between England and South Africa in 2000 (where both teams forfeited an innings each), and the one between England and Pakistan at The Oval in 2006 (when Pakistan forfeited the game), there have been only five occasions when a team has won after conceding a bigger first-innings lead than Pakistan’s 220 in Dubai.
But, in the end, Pakistan fell short by 68 runs, conceding the two-match series 2-0 to Sri Lanka and thereby bringing an end to their winning streak in the United Arab Emirates after remaining unbeaten for nine consecutive series since November 2010.
Shafiq’s fourth-innings jinx
Asad Shafiq, who made a combative 112 in the chase, became the fourth Pakistani batsman to score two or more centuries in the final innings of a Test, drawing level with Javed Miandad, and Ijaz Ahmed. Only Younis Khan (five) has more fourth-innings centuries for Pakistan.
Incidentally, Shafiq’s other final-innings century – 137 against Australia at Brisbane last year – also came in a losing cause. No other batsman has scored more centuries in the last innings of a Test where his side lost the match.
Not only his centuries, but Shafiq’s half-centuries in the fourth innings – 80 against Sri Lanka in 2012, and 56 against South Africa in 2013 – have also ended in defeats.
Most fourth-innings centuries in losing causes
|Herbert Sutcliffe (Eng)||8||8||0||424||127||53.00||2|
|Allan Border (Aus)||18||18||3||520||123*||34.66||2|
|Graham Gooch (Eng)||12||12||0||520||133||43.33||2|
|Sanath Jayasuriya (SL)||13||13||0||499||131||38.38||2|
|David Warner (Aus)||13||13||1||702||123*||58.50||2|
|Asad Shafiq (Pak)||13||13||0||562||137||43.23||2|
Yasir, the wicket-taking machine
Yasir Shah ended the series with 16 wickets – the joint most with Rangana Herath. In the 28 Tests Yasir has played so far, Pakistan have picked up 481 wickets, with Yasir claiming 165 of those – a whopping 34.30%. This places him fourth on the list of bowlers with the highest percentage of his team’s wickets.
He also brought up his 150th Test wicket during the series, becoming the joint second fastest to reach the landmark – in 27 Tests – along with Waqar Younis. Only Sydney Barnes of England has done it in fewer Tests (24).
Highest % of team’s wickets over a career
|Player||Mat||Wickets||Team wickets||% of team wickets|
|Muttiah Muralitharan (SL/ICC)||133||800||2070||38.64|
|Sydney Barnes (Eng)||27||189||494||38.25|
|Richard Hadlee (NZ)||86||431||1255||34.34|
|Yasir Shah (Pak)||28||165||481||34.30|
|Clarrie Grimmett (Aus)||37||216||636||33.96|
Note: Minimum of 20 Tests
The fine line between victory and defeat
Earlier, in the first Test in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan were all out for 114 in the last innings while chasing 136 – the lowest target they have failed to chase down in Test cricket; 136 is also the smallest target defended successfully by Sri Lanka in Tests.
The 21-run difference between two teams was the slimmest margin of victory for Sri Lanka and the narrowest defeat for Pakistan.
Smallest targets successfully defended by Sri Lanka
|Target||Opposition||Ground||Match start date|
|136||Pakistan||Abu Dhabi||September 28, 2017|
|168||Pakistan||Galle||July 4, 2009|
|176||India||Galle||August 12, 2015|
|244||West Indies||Colombo (PSS)||October 22, 2015|
|252||Pakistan||Faisalabad||September 15, 1995|
Herath, the match-winner
The lead architect of Sri Lanka’s victory was Herath, who registered figures of 5 for 93 and 6 for 43 in the first Test. On his way to the match-winning performance, Herath became the first left-arm spinner and the 14th overall to get to 400 Test wickets.
He achieved the 400-wicket mark in his 84th Test, becoming the fourth quickest after Muralitharan, Hadlee, and Dale Steyn to the mark. By the end of the series, Herath had 405 wickets to his name.
Fastest to 400 Test wickets
|Player||Mat||Opposition||Ground||Match start date|
|Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)||72||Zimbabwe||Galle||January 12, 2002|
|Richard Hadlee (NZ)||80||India||Christchurch||February 2, 1990|
|Dale Steyn (SA)||80||Bangladesh||Dhaka||July 30, 2015|
|Rangana Herath (SL)||84||Pakistan||Abu Dhabi||September 28, 2017|
|Anil Kumble (Ind)||85||Australia||Bengaluru||October 6, 2004|
In the second innings, Herath also completed 100 Test wickets against Pakistan, going past Kapil Dev’s record of 99 as the man with the most wickets against the opponents.
Most Test wickets against Pakistan
|Rangana Herath (SL)||21||106||28.07||9-127||62.1||8||2|
|Kapil Dev (Ind)||29||99||30.12||8-85||60.0||7||1|
|Shane Warne (Aus)||15||90||20.17||7-23||45.0||6||2|
|Anil Kumble (Ind)||15||81||31.97||10-74||60.3||5||2|
|Glenn McGrath (Aus)||17||80||21.70||8-24||47.9||3||0|
Out of Herath’s 405 Test wickets, 102 have come in the fourth innings of a Test. Only Warne (138), Muralitharan (106), and McGrath (103) have more fourth-innings wickets than Herath.
He now has 11 five-wicket hauls in the fourth innings of a Test, four more than any other bowler. The top five in this list are all spinners, highlighting their significance in the latter part of a Test.
Most five-fors in fourth innings
|Rangana Herath (SL)||38||102||18.57||8-63||45.6||11|
|Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)||37||106||21.01||8-46||50.0||7|
|Shane Warne (Aus)||60||138||23.14||8-71||52.9||7|
|R Ashwin (Ind)||17||59||16.01||7-59||37.3||6|
|Bishan Singh Bedi (Ind)||26||60||14.46||6-42||47.2||5|
The match figures of 11 for 136 in Abu Dhabi gave Herath his ninth ten-wicket haul in Tests, equalling Hadlee’s mark. He is now behind only Muralitharan (22) and Warne (10).
The left-arm spinner, at the age of 39 years and 193 days, also became the fifth oldest bowler to take ten or more wickets in a Test.
Oldest players to take ten-wicket hauls
|Player||Age||Figures||Opposition||Ground||Match start date|
|Bert Ironmonger (Aus)||49y 311d||11-24||South Africa||Melbourne||February 12, 1932|
|Clarrie Grimmett (Aus)||44y 65d||13-173||South Africa||Durban||February 28, 1936|
|Tich Freeman (Eng)||41y 71d||12-171||South Africa||Manchester||July 27, 1929|
|Sydney Barnes (Eng)||40y 301d||14-144||South Africa||Durban||February 14, 1914|
|Rangana Herath (SL)||39y 193d||11-136||Pakistan||Abu Dhabi||September 28, 2017|