Under fire for his underwhelming string of performances, Noman Ali spun Pakistan to an innings victory against Sri Lanka in the second Test at Colombo, thus completing a 2-0 series sweep over the hosts. Noman finished with career-best figures of 7/70 – the 4th five-wicket haul of his career as Pakistan thrashed Sri Lanka by an innings and 222 runs. Led by Abdullah Shafique’s double century and Agha Salman’s hundred, Pakistan posted 576/5 declared in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 166. The lead was such that Pakistan did not require to bat a second time, with Noman wreaking havoc and bundling Sri Lanka out for 188.
So dominant was Noman that after grabbing the first 6 wickets, the left-arm spinner looked set to join Jim Laker, Anil Kumble and Ejaz Patel as the only the third bowler to pick all 10 wickets in the innings, but once he picked up his and Sri Lanka’s 7th wicket, Naseem Shah wiped put the tail and, in the process, hit the 50-wicket mark in Tests.
Pakistan’s series win over Sri Lanka will etch itself in the history books for several reasons. First, Noman’s figures made him the third oldest Pakistan bowler to register a five-wicket haul in Tests. At 36 years and 296 days, Noman is behind the great Imran Khan and Saeed Ajmal who picked up a five-for at 37 years 216 days, and 36 years 300 days respectively. Noman led the team off the ground and held the trophy during Pakistan’s victory celebrations.
Records galore for Noman and Pakistan
Noman’s heroics with the ball wasn’t the only performance Pakistan should be proud of. They would also revel in the fact that Pakistan now hold the distinction as the team with most series wins in Sri Lanka – 5 – after Australia and England, both of whom have 4 wins, followed by India with 3 and South Africa with 2. The tone was set in Galle, where Pakistan picked notched up a four-wicket win, and finished it up comprehensively at the Sinhalese Sports Club. This is also their first clean sweep in Sri Lanka since 1994, when a three-Test series was reduced to 2. The margin of defeat was Sri Lanka’s largest on their home soil, leaving behind their loss by an innings and 208 runs against South Africa all the way back in 1994.
“Very proud to win the series, all credit to the boys and the coaching staff who’ve worked hard from the last 3-4 months. Everyone put in their efforts for us to win the series. We ticked all the boxes, we worked hard on batting and fielding, not a lot of it in the pitch for the pacers, but they bowled really well in both Tests. This is a team game, Saud in the first Test and Abdullah here were outstanding. We are taking it series by series and will try to perform at our best. We have a plan, we decided to play positive cricket and play up to our strengths, we want an improvement of at least 5-10 percent, it’s not easy to win here, but I think we dominated them in both matches,” winning captain Babar Azam said during the post-match ceremony.