Source: Fawad Alam

Pakistan thumped Sri Lanka in the first test by 4 wickets, in a record-breaking run chase on a difficult pitch. Pakistan chased 342 runs in the 2nd session of the final day at Galle, on the back of a monumental inning by Abdullah Shafique. This is the second-best run chase by Pakistan in Test cricket, whereas, it is the first time that a 300+ score is chased at Galle International Stadium.

Sri Lankans were ambitious to give a 350+ target to visitors, with Dinesh Chandimal nearing his hundred. However, Pakistani bowlers rained on their parade to bundle them out for 337 runs. Chandimal remained not out at 94. He also scored a gutsy 76 in the first innings. Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz picked up his maiden 5-for in the second innings. Sri Lankans looked comfortable with the target of 342 because the highest run chase at Galle stadium before this match was 268 by Sri Lanka against New Zealand in 2019.

The task looked improbable considering the big total, pitch conditions, and Galle’s reputation. However, this all did not matter, once Pakistani batters set foot on the pitch. Pakistan’s mountainous chase was led by 22-year-old, Abdullah Shafique. He showed great temperament and valour, playing 408 balls in a battle of nerves to guide his team home. He was fluent in his stroke-making from the first ball, though he survived a close lbw review in the fourth over of the innings. After that, he was flawless throughout his innings.

He and Imam added 87 runs for the first wicket to set the pace for the innings. After Imam’s departure, Azhar Ali came into bat, only to get back to the pavilion after adding only 6 runs to the total. His poor run of form continues.

Captain Babar Azam joined Abdullah in the middle, and he meant business from the get-go. He continued his second innings, right where he left his first innings at 119. The duo rapidly scaled milestones, Babar Azam went past 3000 Test runs, and eventually scored his 22nd Test half-century. Shafique completed his second Test hundred with the second-wicket stand also crossing 100, before Babar was bowled brilliantly by Sri Lanka’s new spin sensation Prabath Jayasuriya.

After Babar’s departure, Rizwan played a colorful inning of 40, despite some close calls and lbw appeals. While Abdullah remained cool as a cucumber on the other end. He continued to rotate the strike effectively to keep the scoreboard busy.

Pakistan required another 66 runs after Rizwan’s departure, with Abdullah standing firm and 6 wickets in hand, this could have been a cakewalk for Pakistan. But Agha Salman and Hasan Ali got out in the span of 6 balls, thanks to Jayasuriya. The 30-year-old spinner has 21 wickets after two test matches.

None of the other Sri Lankan bowlers posed any threat to Pakistani batters, and their fielding was also sloppy at times. This allowed Nawaz to settle with Shafique to give the finishing touch to the triumph. They chased the total with a session to spare. Abdullah Shafique carried his bat, while Nawaz scored 19 runs. Abdullah Shafique adjourned Man of the Match for his valiant efforts.

Pakistan is leading the two-match series with 1-0, and sitting comfortably at 4th position in the World Test Championship table. They have a chance to improve their standing with a clean sweep against Sri Lanka.