DUBAI: The only series in recent memory when Pakistan negated the threat of Rangana Herath effectively was in 2015 when the Sri Lanka left-arm spinner managed only two wickets in two home Tests, a success which came about after a specific plan against the bowler. In the wake of Pakistan’s defeat in Abu Dhabi, however, Azhar Ali admitted that conditions in the UAE and the relative inexperience in the batting line-up were also factors in the shock collapse against Herath, who took 6 for 43 in Sri Lanka’s defence of 135.
“Well those were different conditions,” Azhar told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously we had plans against him but these are different conditions. This is a new team, so some of them were playing him for the first time. Still I have got out six [nine] times to him. He is a great bowler and we have played a lot against him. Sometimes, we dominate him and the other times he dominates us. This goes on, he is a great bowler and has not got 400 wickets without a reason. When you have a plan, then he too adjusts in a different manner and encounters that plan. We had a plan like we did in 2015 when he got fewer wickets, but unfortunately he did better than us [here].”
“Definitely we are disappointed, and this is not the first time,” he said. “Teams stage comebacks, we did not have much to chase but it’s not easy to bat on the last day. We had the ability to chase that target. Unfortunately we lost early wickets and could not recover, so there are lessons to be learnt which we will learn. Had one [batsman] played a big knock in the first innings, we would have got a bigger lead. Had we done that, things would not have been like this. So the biggest lesson is that when we have things under control we should utilise that to the maximum.”