Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq blamed sloppy fielding as the main reason for his team’s failure to win the first Test against Sri Lanka here on Saturday, saying it was the only negative to take from the match.
Pakistan, led by 314 runs in the first innings, dropped seven catches in Sri Lanka’s second knock with six going down on the fourth day to help their rivals salvage a draw.
Kumar Sangakkara, let off on 50 and 56, went on to make a match-saving 211 while Prasanna Jayawardene, given a life on 11, scored 120 to guide Sri Lanka to 483 in their second innings.
Pakistan called it a day on 21-1 after 10 overs of their second innings, having been set a daunting 170 from a maximum of 20 overs on the fifth day.
Misbah said that he and his team-mates needed to improve their fielding if they were to go on and win the three-Test series.
“The only negative from the Test is our fielding. Otherwise bowling and batting had so many positives,” said Misbah, whose team amassed 511-declared in their first innings after bowling Sri Lanka out for just 197.
Left-arm paceman Junaid Khan recorded a career-best 5-38 in only his second Test, while opener Taufiq Umar hit a stubborn 236 to help Pakistan establish a big lead.
Misbah said Pakistan’s fielding, always their weak point, has improved over the years.
“Pakistan?s fielding has improved over time but we need to improve more, like in batting and bowling. We have been for ages on and off in the field, one day outstanding, other days not so.
“But we?ve focused and worked hard on this for the last year and a half. The problem still does come up again but we are trying to better it,” said Misbah who also watched aghast as Sri Lankan opener Lahiru Thirimanne (68) was dropped three times.
The Pakistan captain said his team expected Sri Lanka to fight hard.
“You always rate Sri Lanka as a top class cricket team. They had a great comeback, we were expecting that. We were aware that they are going to fight and full marks to Sangakkara and Prasanna who put up a brilliant show,” said Misbah.
Misbah praised his team’s bowling.
“We took 20 wickets and lost seven, so it’s really a positive sign for our team. We can work hard on fielding, come with more confidence and do well in the second Test,” he said.
The second Test starts in Dubai on Wednesday.
Misbah defended his team’s tactics of not giving it a go in the run chase.
“Realistically, last day wicket…T20 is a different ballgame, you have field restrictions, a powerplay. In a five-day game, no restrictions, you can pack one side and nine an over becomes difficult, it was not realistic,” said Misbah.
Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said he thought Pakistan would go for the target.
“I think it?s a huge advantage for us,” said Dilshan of the result. “I thought Pakistan would try to go for the target and I am a little bit unhappy they did not try to go for a win,” said Dilshan.
Dilshan praised Sangakkara and Prasanna for their stubborn partnership.
“It was a fantastic partnership. Sangakkara showed his class, played well in the middle and guided Prasanna. I can’t ask for more from him. He is a fantastic player and Prasanna played equally well,” said Dilshan.
Dilshan hoped his side will gain from the draw.
“Definitely I am really happy. The thing is after first couple of days we were well behind in the match and even then the body language in fielding and bowling on a flat wicket was great,” said Dilshan.