Prabath Jayasuriya produced one of the balls of the year on Tuesday to get rid of the pesky Babar Azam after the Pakistan skipper looked well set to drive his team to victory yet again. The ball pitched outside leg and turned sharply to bamboozle Azam as he was left staring at the stumps.
The first Test match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was memorable for many reasons but one thing that really stood out was the quality of spin bowling on display. The likes of Yasir Shah and Prabath Jayasuriya bowled some incredible deliveries to leave the batsmen humiliated and take their wickets in style. From their combined lot of 14 wickets across the four innings, perhaps none was as impressive as the corker Jayasuriya bowled to Babar Azam on what turned out to be the final day of the Test match.
A relatively low-scoring first inning had seen Sri Lanka earn a four-run lead despite their lowly total of 222. The third day saw the Galle pitch settle down a little and while the wear allowed spinners to come into play, the batsmen still held a slight edge as long as they managed to tackle the rough spots. Dinesh Chandimal’s unbeaten 94 meant Pakistan were handed a mammoth target of 342 even though the visitors had ample time to chase.
Before long, the Men in Green were cruising at 205/2 and the victory seemed like a mere formality. Skipper Babar Azam was batting on 55 not-out and twin centuries looked like a shoo-in for the talisman following his knock of 118 in the first inning. On the other end was opener Abdullah Shafique, who had already completed his century and was targeting bigger things.
The task of breaking the 101-run partnership once again fell upon the shoulders of Prabath Jayasuriya, the finger spinner having taken a five-wicket haul in the first innings. Bowling over the wicket, he pitched the ball just outside Azam’s leg stump, provoking him to lean forward and pad the ball away. However, the ball landed on a rough patch and turned sharply right in front of the man-in-form, sneaking behind his legs and dislodging the bails.
A shocked Babar was left staring at the stumps, before moving his head back and forth between the pitch and the wicket. He had been done by an absolute ripper from the left-arm orthodox and had to grudgingly make his way back to the pavilion.
Jayasuriya ended with nine wickets in the game, even though Pakistan registered a comfortable four-wicket win eventually. Nevertheless, his dismissal of Babar Azam will live in the memories of cricket fans for a long time to come.