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Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Masters with a chance to build on prolific records

Published 15 Jun, 2015 06:43pm

Pakistan versus Sri Lanka has become an all too familiar sight for the cricket watching public. This is Pakistan's third visit to the Island for a full tour in the past four years. To put it into context, Pakistan has not toured Australia, England, New Zealand, or the West Indies during this period.

Pakistan has also played Sri Lanka in the UAE twice during this time, making this the fifth Test series between the two sides since October 2011.

During this period, the two teams have played 11 Tests, Sri Lanka holding a slight edge with four wins to Pakistan's two. Both of Pakistan's wins have come in the UAE. In fact, Pakistan last won a Test match in Sri Lanka in 2005/2006; it was also the last time that Pakistan won a Test series in the Island.

Besides turning around their Test performance in Sri Lanka, Pakistan's cricketers will also be eyeing some personal achievements during this Test series.

Younis Khan

Pakistan's Test legend will play his 100th game during this series. This will be a significant feather in his cap making him only the fifth player from Pakistan to play 100 Tests (the others are Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul- Haq, Wasim Akram, and Salim Malik).

Younis also has some personal achievements to look forward to. He needs only 286 runs to go past Javed Miandad and become Pakistan's leading run scorer in Tests; only 453 runs to become the first Pakistani to score 9,000 Test runs; only one century to become the first Pakistani batsman to hit 30 test centuries.

Given the form Younis has been in recently, there is every likelihood that he will achieve all these feats during the upcoming three-match series against Sri Lanka.

Ahmed Shehzad

Pakistan's talented young opener has had a fabulous start to his Test career scoring 718 runs, including 3 centuries, in only 15 innings. He needs another 282 runs to create a Pakistan record for the fastest to 1000 Test runs. The record right now is held by Saeed Ahmed who required 20 innings to achieve the milestone.

Shehzad is also in the running for a Pakistan record in terms of time taken to score 1,000 Test runs. Having made his Test debut on December 31, 2013, it has been one year and 166 days since he first appeared in whites. The Pakistani selectors denied him a good opportunity to create a record by unfairly dropping him from the Test squad against Bangladesh, but good on them to correct this mistake and bring the talented opener back into the fold.

Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistan's Test captain has already achieved so much while captaining the team that there doesn't seem much left for him to do. He has taken Pakistan to number three in the Test rankings, he has won more matches as captain than any other Pakistan captain and he has scored more runs as captain than any other Pakistan skipper. He has also led Pakistan more times than everyone else, except for the great Imran Khan.

So what else is left for Misbah to make his own? Well, he needs one more century to equal and two more to break Inzamam-ul-Haq's record of seven Test centuries scored as captain.

Yasir Shah

Pakistan's newest leg spinner has been a revelation in Test cricket. He has taken over from Saeed Ajmal in the best possible way and has plenty of wickets to show for his tenacity and perseverance. Rated by Shane Warne as the best leg spinner in the world today, Yasir has so far picked up 37 wickets in only seven matches.

He has the opportunity to complete 50 Test wickets faster than any bowler from Pakistan if he can pick up another 13 scalps in the next two games. The Pakistan record for fastest to reach 50 Test wickets is jointly held by Waqar Younis, Mohammad Asif, and Shabbir Ahmed, who managed it in 10 Tests. For spinners, the Pakistan record is held by Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman who achieved the feat in 11 Tests.

Yasir also has time on his side as it has only been 235 days since his Test debut against Australia in October last year. No one has achieved the feat of picking up 50 Test wickets for Pakistan within a year of his debut.

While the overall international record for fastest 50 Test wickets is six tests, held by Charlie Turner from Australia, the record among spinners is held by Alfred Valentine, the slow left armer from West Indies, who managed it in 8 Tests. Yasir can't break that record but he definitely has the opportunity to equal it.

While Pakistan will be looking to improve its Test record in Sri Lanka, and its cricketers will have their eyes firmly on their personal goals, Pakistan's two biggest nemesis will be licking their lips at the prospect of playing against their favorite opposition once again. Kumar Sangakkara and Rangana Herath have been the two biggest hurdles that Pakistan has not been able to overcome.

Kumar Sangakkara

No one has scored more Test runs or Test centuries against Pakistan than Sangakkara.

Sangakkara will be looking to add to his 2,809 runs against Pakistan and become the first batsman in the world to score 3,000 Test runs against them. That will make him the first cricketer to score 3,000 Test runs against an opposition other than Australia and England. The feat has been achieved only 7 times before - by Don Bradman, Allan Border, Gary Sobers, and Steve Waugh versus England; and Sachin Tendulkar, Jack Hobbs, and David Gower against Australia.

Rangana Herath

Herath has also been very successful in Tests against Pakistan picking up 88 wickets in only 17 matches, making him the third most successful bowler against the team. He needs only three more wickets to surpass Shane Warne, and only 12 more wickets to become the first bowler in the world to pick up 100 wickets in Tests against Pakistan.

So even though the upcoming Test series may reek of too much familiarity, there is plenty at stake for the players taking part. It will definitely be an interesting contest should the much-travelled stalwarts and the up-and-coming stars manage to rewrite history.


Umair Qazi is the founder of wellpitched.com, co-founder of the popular facebook group 'Boys in Green', and he tweets @wellpitched