After his team conceded the two-Test series to Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday (October 10) in Dubai, Sarfraz Ahmed insisted that his team and the management hadn’t taken the opponents lightly at all.
Pakistan, chasing 317 for a series-levelling win after losing the first Test in Abu Dhabi by 21 runs, were bowled out for 248 an hour before the first break on the fifth and final day to lose by 68 runs.
Were Pakistan over-confident after Sri Lanka were routed 3-0 by India recently?
“No, not at all. We played a Test series after quite a while and we prepared well for it. We didn’t play well, which is why we lost,” countered Sarfraz, who was leading the Test side for the first time after Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan retired in May this year.
Sri Lanka were just the better team across the two Tests, Sarfraz suggested: “I think we are not playing better cricket. Sri Lanka played much better cricket than us. We lacked in the batting especially. We didn’t play a big innings and that is what cost us.”
The fifth day started with Sarfraz and Asad Shafiq in the middle after they had lifted Pakistan from 52 for 5 to 198 for 5 in their chase of 317.
“The thinking was the same, to just play positive cricket, to rotate strike. But unfortunately we didn’t get that and that is why we lost,” said Sarfraz, who also refused to accept that playing with just one frontline spinner – Yasir Shah – was a mistake. “You could say we should have played two spinners here but the bigger problems we got was from the batting areas. They made 400, we still made 400 against them.
“You could say we’ve played and won with two spinners before here but, at the moment, we felt our fast bowling was more experienced. We had Hasan Ali, we had Mohammad Amir and hoped they would do well. But we didn’t get the wickets – their fast bowlers bowled better than us and we should give them credit for that. They hit the right areas and took wickets at just the right time. I think more than the bowling, the difference was our batting.”
Pakistan had Mohammad Asghar, the left-arm spinner, and Bilal Asif, the offspinner, in the squad but the management surprisingly said they were “lacking quality” and did not give them a chance.
Sarfraz felt that this being his first outing as captain of the Test team, it was important that he had learnt a fair bit. “I got to learn a lot. We made many mistakes in the series. This was my first series as captain and it was pretty tough. Captaincy is very different in Tests – changes session by session,” he pointed out.
“The toss is very important in Tests, especially in Asia. But even after losing the toss, we managed to get close to them but just couldn’t win it. We lacked in our batting, we didn’t play any long innings, didn’t capitalise on good starts. The kind of innings Asad played, if we had gotten that in the last game, or in the first innings here, then we could’ve gotten out of it. I learnt a fair bit and I hope that whatever the next series is, we’ll try and improve on these.”