COLOMBO: Veteran Rangana Herath is relieved that he will not have to bowl at senior Pakistani duo of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan any longer.
While Younis is the only Pakistani to score more than 10,000 runs in Test cricket, Misbah is the country’s most successful Test captain, having won 26 of his 56 Tests as captain.
Both Misbah and Younis retired early this year after the series against the West Indies.
“That’s a big relief that we don’t have to play against the two of them anymore,” Herath told Cricbuzz. “They were easily their two best players. Vastly experienced, very good players of spin and don’t give away their wickets easily. Pakistan will face a situation like us when we lost Mahela and Sanga around the same time,” Herath added.
Sri Lanka were taught a bitter lesson when these two teams met the last time in 2015. At Pallekele, the hosts had set Pakistan a target of 377 to win the match and the series. No one gave the tourists a chance as no team had chased that many to win a Test match in Sri Lanka.
Pakistan were 13 for two but Younis came up with a stunning knock, batting for over seven hours to guide Pakistan to a famous win. Younis made 171 and was well backed up by Misbah, who made an unbeaten half-century as Pakistan won with seven wickets to spare.
After the game, then captain Angelo Mathews went on record saying that the defeat will take a long time to digest.
Younis’s career-best 313 also came against Sri Lanka in Karachi in 2009. Of his 34 Test hundreds, nine were against Sri Lanka.
Herath expected an even contest in the upcoming series after Sri Lanka suffered their worst series defeat at home, losing 3-0 to India with none of the games going the full distance.
“It will be a closely contested series. They are ranked sixth and we are ranked seventh. Our confidence levels took a beating during the Indian series and this is a good opportunity for us to lift our standards. Pakistan have some very good young players and I am looking forward for [to] the challenge,” noted Herath.
Sri Lanka leave for UAE on Sunday (Sept 24). The first Test will be played on Sept 28 in Abu Dhabi followed by the second Test in Dubai, a day-night Test. It will be Sri Lanka’s first pink-ball Test match. The tour also contains five ODIs and three T20Is, the last of which will take place in Lahore, subject to security clearance.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2017