KARACHI: Rising speedster Nasim Shah belied his tender age to grab his maiden five-for as Pakistan trounced Sri Lanka by a handsome margin of 263 runs at the National Stadium in an instantaneous conclusion to the second and final match of the ICC World Test Championship here on Monday.
The 1-0 series triumph — their first against Sri Lanka on home soil after an astonishing gap of 27 years (1991-92 season) — not only catapulted to Pakistan to third from sixth spot with a tally of 80 points in the table after they pocketed 60 which were on offer for winning in a two-match rubber, but also saw them record their home victory since defeating West Indies at this venue in November 2006, and their first overall after having lost to New Zealand 13 months ago at Abu Dhabi, and their 22nd from 42 games at this imposing venue.
Pakistan’s redemption — after a losing six-match sequence was broken by last week’s rain-ravaged first Test — was finally completed. Sri Lanka were already in a state of despondency after having slumped to 212-7 at stumps on the fourth evening and their lone route to escape was profuse assistance from the divine intervention — an occurrence which was in abundance during drawn Test in the bitterly cold garrison town of Rawalpindi.
But the tourists were unaware that it had hardly rained in Karachi over the past two months and were dismissed without any addition to the overnight score to enable Pakistan celebrate a famous win and be overjoyed for many reasons.
There was no escaping for the tourists on a cool morning because the winners emerged within just 14 minutes — 16 deliveries in total — as the menacing sight of a fiery Nasim plucked out two of the remaining three wickets to emerge at the age of 16 years and 307 days (date taken into account from start of the Test) as the youngest-ever pace bowler to take five wickets in a single innings.
Nasim, who overall is the second youngest to claim five-for in Test history after compatriot Nasim-ul-Ghani — the slow left-armer who took 5-116 at the age of 16 years and 303 days versus the West Indies at Georgetown in March 1958 — was also on course of becoming the youngest to a hat-trick but missed out as Vishwa Fernando blocked out the next ball after the dismissal of Lasith Embuldeniya in a brute fashion when the tailender tried an evasive action but got a faint edge to the wicket-keeper.
With Dilruwan Perera gone the first delivery of the Sunday’s last over, the incoming Embuldeniya had to face the music from the onset but was immediately put out of his misery after West Indies umpire Joel Wilson — who generally had an average outing in the Karachi Test — once again had his original decision overturned by the Decision Review System (DRS) once replays provided enough proof of spike on the ultra-edge technology.
Oshada Fernando, the solitary specialist batsman at the crease probably had targeted carrying his bat through the entire second innings but his dream evaporated guided the fifth delivery he faced from Yasir Shah straight to Asad Shafiq at slip. Until that lapse of concentration, Fernando had been a picture of confidence and determination, while battled hard for 277 minutes since lunch on Sunday. His lovely innings of 102 from 180 balls included 13 boundaries.
It was fitting that no one else but Nasim should get the opportunity to capture the last wicket to register his name in the cricket annals. Vishwa Fernando with no pedigree with the willow to speak of, prolonged the end for only five more deliveries after a near unplayable fuller ball was too hot for him to handle.
Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford had no doubt in his mind but declared the Sri Lankan No 10 leg-before-wicket to pull down curtains on what had been a defining moment in the rather corroded chronicle of Pakistan cricket. The demise of Vishwa Fernando meant Sri Lanka losing the final four wickets for no run in 17 deliveries because play finished the previous evening the moment Dilruwan Perera was out.
Nasim, in the meantime finished with 5-31 in just his third appearance at the highest level. “In the first innings luck deserted me with a catch also going down. But having seen how well Shaheen [Shah Afridi] and [Mohammad] Abbas bhai competed against each other to share nine wickets, I questioned myself, ‘if they can take so many wickets why can’t I’ and that made me very determined to bowl not just very quick but also pick up more wickets in the second innings. I’m grateful to Almighty Allah for showering His blessings.
“Moreover, playing in front of home fans was definitely an added inspiration for all of us and it made the entire team to lift their game. We are all very happy to have played in this historic series.”
In the ensuing post-match presentation, with the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani in attendance, the new batting star Abid Ali completed a clean-sweep of the individual awards. The soft-spoken opener repeated his man-of-the-match from the Rawalpindi Test — where he earned the unparalleled distinction of only cricketer to mark both his One-day International and Test debuts with three-figure knocks — for epic innings of 174 here as well as stepping up to collect the man-of-the-match series after amassing 321 runs at 160.50 from three innings.
In a contest of fluctuations and twists, which was highlighted by spate of record feats, this is Pakistan’s second biggest victory in terms of runs at the National Stadium after the 341-run drubbing of India in early 2006.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings) 191 (Asad Shafiq 63, Babar Azam 60, Abid Ali 38; C.B.R.L.S. Kumara 4-49, L. Embuldeniya 4-71, M.V.T. Fernando 2-31).
SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 271 (L.D. Chandimal 74, M.D.K. Perera 48, D.M. de Silva 32; Shaheen Shah Afridi 5-77, Mohammad Abbas 4-55).
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings) 555-3 declared (Abid Ali 174, Shan Masood 135, Azhar Ali 118, Babar Azam 100 not out; C.B.R.L.S. Kumara 2-139).
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings, overnight 212-7):
F.D.M. Karunaratne c Rizwan b Abbas16
B.O.P. Fernando c Asad b Yasir102
B.K.G. Mendis c Babar b Nasim0
A.D. Mathews c Rizwan b Shaheen19
L.D. Chandimal lbw b Nasim2
D.M. de Silva b Yasir0
N. Dickwella b Haris65
M.D.K. Perera c Rizwan b Nasim5
L. Embuldeniya c Rizwan b Nasim0
M.V.T. Fernando lbw b Nasim0
C.B.R.L.S. Kumara not out0
TOTAL (all out, 62.5 overs)212
FALL OF WKTS: 1-39, 2-40, 3-70, 4-96, 5-97, 6-201, 7-212, 8-212, 9-212.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 14-3-51-1; Mohammad Abbas 12-2-33-1; Nasim Shah 12.5-4-31-5; Yasir Shah 20-3-84-2; Haris Sohail 4-0-10-1.
RESULT: Pakistan won by 263 runs to win two-match series 1-0.
UMPIRES: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia) and J.S. Wilson (West Indies).
TV UMPIRE: G.O. Brathwaite (West Indies).
MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Abid Ali.
MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Abid Ali.
FIRST TEST: Rawalpindi, match drawn.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019