Babar Azam heaps praise on Abdullah Shafique

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Abdullah Shafique waded through different phases of Pakistan’s second innings and also negated the threat of Sri Lankan spin trio on a track that was offering some assistance to help his side script a memorable win in Galle.

Even though the Galle track seemed to slow down as the match progressed, it was still offering some help for the spinners on the final day. In the post-match presentation, Shafique pointed out that playing against the second new ball in particular was tricky as the hardness of the ball helped the spinners to extract a bit more bounce off the surface. Shafique also said that he ‘enjoyed’ batting with Babar, with whom he strung together a crucial 101-run alliance for the third wicket to lay the foundation for victory.

“I am happy that we were able to chase. Congratulations to the entire team for this record chase. Our plan was simple, we had to go and get the runs. It was difficult (to bat) but with time it was easier. Spinners with the new ball were slightly tough to play. Babar is one of the best in the world. We have learnt so much from him. I enjoyed batting with him in the middle.”

Babar didn’t just score a fifty in the second innings but also composed a resolute 119 in the first dig, which in turn helped Pakistan recover from a precariously placed 104 for 7 and end up within just four runs of securing parity. On his part, Babar thanked the lower order batters for providing support, especially the No.11 batter Naseem Shah, with whom Babar strung together a partnership of 70. “First innings we did well with the ball. I should thank the tailenders for the support they gave me, especially Naseem Shah. We know how to play spin, so we believed. Me and Abdullah were just trying to build a partnership. As a youngster, he is showing a lot of class. Really pleasing to see him perform well.”

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne observed left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya didn’t receive the required support from other bowlers in the second innings. Despite the track easing out to some extent during the second innings, Jayasuriya bowled 56 overs and took a four-for. However, Ramesh Mendis and Maheesh Theekshana struggled to string together dots and bowl maiden overs. In fact, the spin duo bowled just two maiden overs in a total of 47 overs between them.

“I think if we put more runs in the first innings we could have put more pressure on Pakistan. But we batted well in the second innings. With the ball we could not support Prabath from the other end. We had to give him more support. Naseem supported Babar really well. The pitch went a bit flat at that point, but as a bowling unit we need to give more support to Prabath. He is capable of bowling a lot of overs. He did a great job. He bowled good areas despite bowling 30-35 (56.2) overs.”