Match Tied (Royal Challengers Bangalore win one-over eliminator)
The damp squib in Rawalpindi allowed only two days of cricket but with no rain threat looming over second Test, we can expect a full-course meal in Karachi. Players from both sides got good practice in the inconsequential match but now teams will push for a result rather than being content with just individual milestones.
Mickey Arthur, who might be undergoing ambivalent feelings in his first coaching assignment with Sri Lanka, is conducting ice-breaking sessions with his new apprentices and has asked his bowlers to keep things tight in Karachi as they leaked many runs on the final day of the first Test in batting friendly conditions.
Abid burst onto the scenes emphatically and seized the opportunity with both hands. The 32-year-old scored a century on his debut but it wasn't a surprising knock because he has got heaps of domestic experience and tons of runs under his belt before he got a call-up to the national side.
Dhananjaya de Silva showed calmness and stoic defence after a fall of quick wickets and despite the frustrating rain and bad light interruptions that lasted till the fourth day, he didn't lose focus and displayed his penchant for scoring big runs with great perseverance and concentration.
Sri Lanka are in a bit of a quandary though as after Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha has joined the injury list and therefore put pressure on the pace battery which leaves deck-hitting enforcer Lahiru Kumara and left-arm speedster Vishwa Fernando to constitute the pace attack and the injury will make way for either Lasith Embuldeniya or Lakshan Sandakan for the Karachi Test.
Azhar Ali's rough patch continues with the bat as he failed to convert the start into something substantial and was ensnared by Kumara's rising delivery. The newly appointed skipper will get another opportunity to find his groove on Karachi's placid track.
Yasir Shah was left out of the team for the first Test and went to National Cricket Academy to work with spin bowling consultant Mushtaq Ahmed in a bid to bring back his penetration, confidence, and guile in his bowling. He has joined his squad mates in Karachi and is likely to play.
With the danger of fielding a one-dimensional pace heavy bowling attack, Yasir could be a handy option for Azhar considering the fact that he can bowl long spells and become lethal come the fourth and fifth day of the Test when he often starts to extract prodigious turn out of the rough areas on the pitch.
What a time to be alive for cricket lovers as Test cricket gets back on the rails in Pakistan and the ecstasy was conspicuous on the fifth day of Rawalpindi Test where fans thronged the stadium on a beautiful morning with sparkling sunshine and they were truly regaled by Babar Azam and Abid Ali's centuries that were struck just in the nick of time as they raced against fading light.
The action will now move to sprawling metropolis, Karachi, which is all set for the marquee match.
Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Usman Shinwari.
Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan