DUBAI: Empty seats all round at the Dubai Sports Stadium comes no doubt as bad publicity for Test cricket. Not that this is something new for me or for those who watched a Test before, but rather disappointing for the fact that Friday being a public holiday, the attendance here was very poor.
This was a kind of anti-climax for me, after having come back from the English summer where seven Test matches held in the season were very well attended. Even the lowly-rated West Indians, after England’s sell-out series against South Africa earlier in the summer, were keenly followed.
The first pink ball Test on English soil played at Edgbaston against Jason Holder’s team was packed to capacity when the West Indians sensationally chased over 300 runs to stun Joe Root’s team. Facilities in the Emirates over the years, since cricket or football is introduced in the desert land with international teams regularly showing up, has no doubt started to get into the psyche of the expats who have settled here from different cultures and backgrounds.
The migrants here, of which the majority is from a working class which earns its day to day bread and butter, have little or scant interest in what goes on here at the international level, or what sports is being played or who is touring.
Perhaps if Pakistan had been fine security wise, not many teams would even venture in this direction to play a Test series in a country which is only an associate member of the ICC.
No matter who plays here, the attendance will always be the more or less the same. A handful of people hanging round the dressing rooms of the players to have a close sight of them. That really is their only charm and not the standard of play which is on offer.
This day and night Test, the second one in Dubai, is once again as much a tedium for the fact that the atmosphere that makes an international event sizzle is more or less missing here. Perhaps, when limited over games are played, they attract bigger crowds, but not the Tests.
Sharjah being a smaller place and a smaller ground than Dubai does, however, attract a lot more people from adjoining states like Ajman to form a sizeable crowd.
Sri Lanka, like in Abu Dhabi, once again have the advantage to make the first use of the wicket. And I would not be surprised if they again put up a respectable score to challenge Sarfraz Ahmed’s men, who will be under pressure once again.
Pakistan’s sapped confidence in the series, after having lost the first Test, has no doubt put them in a tight corner while Sri Lanka has lifted themselves up to allow even two debutants — Sadeera Samarwickrama and Lahiru Gamage — to replace a batsman and a spinner.
Pakistan, I suppose, have blundered once again by playing just one spinner, Yasir Shah. They should have learned their lesson from the first Test to give an opportunity to the talented Mohammad Asghar or Bilal Asif.
Match selection policy and team selection also makes me wonder the way our team is picked.
I am as much disappointed not to see the names of Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam in the one-day squad named on Friday as I am watching Pakistan toil with one specialist spinner on a slow surface which could, however, change in nature as the game progresses.
Dinesh Chandimal, the Lankan captain, and the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne looked well in control of their innings despite losing three wickets as the visitors aimed for a sizeable score.
Courtesy By: https://dawn.com/