Azhar Ali has thanked the Sri Lankan team for accepting Pakistan's request to finally play a Test in the country and expressed his gratitude towards the tourists for bringing 'happiness' to the whole of Pakistan. Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in Karachi to win their first home series in over a decade.
The recently-concluded Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka marked the return of Test cricket to the nation of Pakistan, 10 years after the unfortunate terror attacks on the Lankan team bus, back in 2009. Post the incident, due to teams around the world refusing to tour Pakistan owing to security concerns, Pakistan adopted the country of United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it's home-ground, hosting every single one of their designated 'home matches' in the gulf.
However, Sri Lanka, earlier this year, came forward and accepted Pakistan's proposal of touring the country once again and after being happy with the security arrangements, decided that they will be touring the sub-continent nation for a full-fledged tour comprising 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is and 2 Tests. And now, after his side's successful routing of the Lankans in the second Test in Karachi, which subsequently also resulted in a 1-0 series win, Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali expressed his gratitude for the Dimuth Karunaratne-led side for being gracious enough to accept Pakistan's proposal to play in the country and bring happiness to the people of Pakistan, while also lavishing praise on his young team.
"A big thank you to the Sri Lankan team from the bottom of our hearts; they don't know how much happiness they have given us by playing here at home after so long," Azhar told in the post-match presentation, reported Cricbuzz.
"There are some special players here in this dressing room. The last year has been tough for us as a Test team and playing at home after a long time was emotional for us, but we wanted to start fresh on a positive note. And it has been satisfactory. There is so much talent in these youngsters, obviously experience will come with time," he added.
After an underwhelming showing in Australia, the Pakistan bowlers came under fire and had to respond to set things straight. And they responded in style, bowling out the touring Lankan side for a modest total of 212 in the second innings on a flat wicket to complete a 263-run win. Azhar hailed his bowling unit for their showing, labelling them as the 'best in the country'. He also heaped praise on the batsmen for setting the platform and hailed teenager Naseem Shah, who stole the show in the 2nd innings claiming his maiden five-wicket haul.
"They are the best bowlers in Pakistan and we have to back them, Abbas came back strong and Shaheen kept asking for the ball to get his fifer," Azhar said of his bowlers.
"The platform was laid by the openers for us then. Centuries are very important, but Babar and Asad got important fifties in the first innings. And then Naseem was outstanding. You have to stay calm under pressure and that's the job of the team management. When you are under pressure, you need to stick to the basics."
The Pakistan skipper concluded by thanking the security agencies that made the series happen and said that they'd now 'learned' how to win at home.
"We know how to win Test matches in Dubai but we hadn't played a lot here. But now we know how to win in Pakistan as well. A big thank you to all the security agencies and all those involved in the conduct of this match."
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