SL vs PAK, Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2023, 1st Test at Galle

SL vs PAK, Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2023, 1st Test at Galle

Saud Shakeel and Harry Brook have both made impressive starts to their Test careers, but in different ways. Shakeel has an average of 72.50 after 10 innings, while Brook has an average of 64.25 after 17 innings. Before Monday, not many would have compared them due to their contrasting strike rates. Even if you halve Brook’s strike rate of 94.31, it still falls short of Shakeel’s rate of 41.66. Shakeel has faced 1392 deliveries and hit only one six, whereas Brook has faced 1090 deliveries and hit 20 sixes. However, Pakistan has now picked up the pace in their first innings after a six-month break from Test cricket. They are currently scoring at a run rate of 4.91 after 45 overs, with Shakeel leading the way with an unbeaten 69 off 88 deliveries. Agha Salman, who had a successful Test career before the break, is also performing well in this match.

Pakistan turned on the gas in their Test cricket match against Sri Lanka, despite being in deep trouble at 101 for 5. The pair batted together and scored an unbeaten 120 runs off 136 deliveries. They played aggressive shots, frequently leaving their crease and preventing the bowlers from building up dot balls. Shan Masood, who had earlier scored 39 off 30 balls, explained that this change in approach was a result of the team’s realization during the last Test cycle that they needed to score at a higher rate compared to their opponents. This shift in strategy has been a focused effort by the entire team.

Some guys were granted the opportunity to play cricket in England, while the rest of us worked hard in two skill camps held in Lahore and Karachi before heading to Sri Lanka. Our main focus was on scoring runs to put pressure on the opposition. In these camps, each individual had the freedom to choose their own approach, but they were given the chance to experiment with different shots and assess what worked best for them against various opponents. If you observe players like Saud and Agha in our team, you can notice subtle changes that have enabled them to score quickly. This new aggressive style of play is believed to be influenced by Pakistan’s team director Mickey Arthur, with support from others as well.

Arthur, who served as the coach of Sri Lanka from 2019 to 2021, possesses not just intimate familiarity with the Galle track but also held the position of head coach during the Test debuts of Prabath Jayasuriya and Ramesh Mendis. Additionally, Pakistan has ramped up its efforts to engage in Test cricket.

The concept of scoring runs in Galle before getting dismissed by a good delivery is not a novel theory. Several batsmen, including Sri Lanka’s own players, have employed this tactic with different levels of success. However, what makes it unique is that Pakistan, who have been frequent visitors to Sri Lanka in the 21st century, has now prioritized aggressive batting as a team strategy in Test cricket.

In contrast to the usual trend of Test matches progressing to day three, I have observed that Test matches at Galle tend to conclude within four days, Masood commented. The unique conditions here lead to intriguing occurrences, as the ball consistently offers movement. The presence of a breeze aids the fast bowlers, enabling reverse swing and good carry, while the spinners dominate proceedings. Therefore, while you are present, it is advisable to capitalize on these conditions. The objective should be to restrict the fourth innings chase to a minimum.

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