With an unbeaten 146-run stand between Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq reviving Pakistan’s diminished hopes, Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has pinned his hopes on the latter whose iconic 137-run knock last year had taken Pakistan agonisingly close of chasing down a mammoth 490 in Australia.
Shafiq was unbeaten on 86 while Sarfraz was batting 57, as Pakistan recovered from 52 for five to end day four on 198 for five in pursuit of 317 in the second Test against Sri Lanka.
“I see it with a lot of relief that we eventually see the partnership. They’ve both played very, very well. We were saying at tea time it has a bit of a Gabba feel about it when we chased, and Shafiq got 137. It had the same feel. I am so pleased for Shafiq because he’s worked so hard and we know he’s a quality player and he showed the skills tonight. I thought he was very good. I just hope he can go all the way for us tomorrow,” Arthur said.
“I didn’t think I’d be sitting here talking about that at 6 pm. It was a really good session. These guys double their partnership, we’ll win the game. I think there are seven overs to the new ball, so if we can cash in on those seven overs, put a little bit of pressure on, it could be a good ending,” he added.
Arthur also spoke on the incident in the first innings when Wahab Riaz surprisingly aborted his run-up five times, much to the frustration of head coach. The coach, however, was delighted with the pacer’s performance in the second innings where his four-wicket haul including three in the final session of the third day helped Pakistan to bowl Sri Lanka out for a paltry 96.
“We just worked through the problem (with his run-up), that was all. He bowled well. He ran in, got a bit of rhythm and did the job for us. So that was quite pleasing, especially when we were one quick bowler down. He stood up for us in the second innings.”