(Saud Shakeel had to do the bulk of the run-scoring after the eighth wicket fell•Jul 18, 2023•AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistan is currently at the top of the first test against Sri Lanka, thanks to Shakeel’s impressive double century. GALLE, Sri Lanka -GALLE, Sri Lanka – Saud Shakeel was one of the few Pakistan batters to achieve a double century during a test in Sri Lanka as the visitors won the first test, scoring 461 on Tuesday.
After being 149 runs behind on the first day of play, Sri Lanka reduced that to 135 after a 14-for-no loss when they reached stumps on day three. Shakeel was left stranded on the 208th wicket, his second century in two innings, when Pakistan had been wiped out following tea.
In the six tests he has taken following his debut in December, he’s achieved a double hundred and 100 and five half-centuries. His Bradmanesque score is 98.5. Shakeel was the primary player in Pakistan’s bowling by weaving crucial partnerships with the middle order and the back after the top order fell.
With the score at 101-5, a big one-inning lead was not the main thought in the minds of Pakistan. However, Shakeel also scored 177, together with Agha Salman, to save his team. It was the record-breaking partnership for Pakistan in the sixth wicket in a match against Sri Lanka, improving on the stand of 173 runs with Sarfaraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq back in Dubai in 2017.
“When I went to play, I wanted to strike,” Shakeel said. “If I’d tried to play defensively, we’d be bowled out at 150. So, I was aggressive and played the game to the fullest.
“We have been trying to perform this style of cricket in the home camp. The coaches have backed me. I’m pleased with my effort.
Shakeel used his feet skillfully to spinners and hitters through an unconventional batting method, causing the ball to bounce around and forcing Sri Lankans to extend the field in his engagement with Salman. Ramesh Mendis made the breakthrough in the damp morning session after he got Salman stuck for the 83rd wicket.
In the middle, Shakeel switched gears and was satisfied to take the strike off the tail. The technique was successful. In the afternoon, Shakeel extended the seventh-wicket partnership with Noman Ali to 52 runs. He also added a match-defining score of 94 runs alongside Naseem Shah to take the 9th wicket. The contribution of Naseem Shah was only six runs.
“When we were 8 wickets adrift, and Naseem Shah came in with me, he told me I could take the double century,” Shakeel said. “Lot of praise for his support and not letting me get scared.” Sri Lanka was sloppy in the field when Shakeel was dropped twice: on his 93rd off by Nishan Madushka in the leg gully and on 13 on 139 by Angelo Mathews at deep mid wicket.
The left-handed batsman made his second hundredth birthday by slicing Dhananjaya de Silva to square. He then cut across the fielders to score four. After the last man, Abrar Ahmed was out for 10, scoring 461. Shakeel did not lose after an innings that lasted 506 minutes. In that time, Shakeel was faced with 361 balls and also hit 19 boundaries.
There are only two players from outside the country, two from overseas — West Indies’ Chris Gayle (333) and England’s Joe Root (228), who are more successful in Galle over Shakeel.
Mendis ended the day with a five-wicket haul. It was his fifth wicket in 13 innings, and Prabath Jayasuriya took three wickets. In the end, Sri Lanka bowlers struggled against Shakeel’s savvy batsmanship. Shakeel.
The Sri Lankan openers played 3.4 overs with no issues before lousy weather forced the team to end their innings early in the game. However, they face a massive task ahead of them on Day 4.
“It’s the most important day of the match between Sri Lanka and India,” Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood said. “We must be ready and show the best effort forward.
“We are not at most effective when it comes to the ball. It was great to watch Ramesh get five wickets. However, as a group, we should have been better. The questions we asked were excellent the other day. We missed some crucial opportunities, and it turned out to cost us dearly.”