December 23, 2019 / 5:33 AM / a month ago

Cricket: Teenager Naseem stars in Pakistan's emotional home series win

LAHORE (Reuters) - Pakistan celebrated test cricket’s return to the country after a decade with an emotional 1-0 series victory against Sri Lanka on Monday after teenager Naseem Shah bowled them to a 263-run win in the second and final match in Karachi.

A lot of coaxing and cajoling went behind organising the series, which marked Pakistan’s first tests on home soil since the 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.

Top Sri Lankan cricketers opted out of a limited-overs series in Pakistan earlier this year and agreed to travel for the test series only after promised watertight security.

The hosts needed only 16 deliveries to claim the last three wickets and Naseem grabbed two of them to signal his arrival as Pakistan’s next pace prospect.

Chasing an improbable 476 for victory, Sri Lanka folded for 212, their last four batsmen perishing without adding a single run to the total.

“Definitely we needed this performance. Special thanks to the Sri Lankan team and the Sri Lankan board from the bottom of our hearts” for touring Pakistan, elated home captain Azhar Ali said at the presentation ceremony.

“They probably don’t know how much happiness they have given us by playing here ... It was a special series for us and boys played special cricket.”

One of them was Naseem, the 16-year-old quick, who got rid of Lasith Embuldeniya with the first ball on the fifth day morning to be on a hat-trick.

Vishwa Fernando denied him the feat but could not deny Naseem his five-wicket haul and fell in the quick’s next over.

Oshada Fernando, whose maiden test century was the lone significant resistance in the Sri Lankan innings, fell to Yasir Shah, failing to add to his overnight score of 102.

Abid Ali, who smashed a century in the drawn Rawalpindi test and another in Karachi to finish the series as its top scorer, was adjudged player of the match as well as of the series.

Abid was one of the four centurions in Pakistan’s second innings, only the second instance when each of the top four batsmen got a hundred in the same innings.

“We dominated the first two days but Azhar and his team came back very strongly and put us under pressure,” Sri Lanka Captain Dimuth Karunaratne said.

“They batted really well and we lost our patience as well.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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