Hosts need to win in Dubai to level two-match series after losing first Test in Abu Dhabi
Before the series started, many termed Pakistan as the strong favourites, not because there was a monumental difference between the teams, but because of Sri Lanka’s poor run in the last year or so.
However, after two great sessions on day five of the first Test, the Islanders are now in a pole position to win their first series in Pakistan’s makeshift home – UAE.
Sri Lanka, who was already short on experience as veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews failed recover from injury, another senior pro – Lahiru Thirimanne is also out of the second Test, which means there will be even more burden on in-form captain Dinesh Chandimal to lead from the front in the batting department.
In Thirimanne’s absence, Sadeera Samarawickrama is likely to make his debut in the five-day format.In the bowling department, there are no changes expected as the bowlers put really good show in the first match.
However, the eyes will be once again on veteran Rangana Herath to produce another impressive performance to help his team become the first side to beat Pakistan in a Test series in the UAE since 2010.
For Pakistan, things weren’t looking as bad until the last two sessions of the match, which means there is no major shift in the strategy expected.In the batting department, all eyes will be once again on experienced Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq to fill the boots of Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan, whereas young Babar Azam is also under pressure to justify his place in the final eleven.
There were rumours that Pakistan might opt to include another spinner in the lineup, but there are no signs of that happening which means the Green Caps will go in with the same bowling combination of three pacers and one spinner.However, fast-bowler Hasan Ali is expected to miss out after failing to recover from back injury, which means Wahab Riaz is likely to get a game.
The pitch is expected to be dry and slow, but how the pink ball will react under light will be interesting to see, and the weather is expected to stay fine throughout.