Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq (right) has a chat with his key spinner Yasir Shah during practice at the Pallekele Stadium, venue of the third Test against Sri Lanka. (AFP picture by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Pallekele

PALLEKELE: Pakistan are hoping to make a strong comeback in the series deciding third and final Test against Sri Lanka following their seven-wicket loss in Colombo three days ago.

The three-match series is equally poised with each team having won a Test apiece. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is confident that his team can bounce back like Sri Lanka did after losing the first Test at Galle by ten wickets.

“Our focus is on the game, as we really need to win it. It’s not difficult to come back after a loss but somehow it’s a reminder and a sort of an alert that we are not doing everything right,” said Misbah at the pre-match press conference.

“We did make mistakes but these mistakes always give you a lesson and give you a chance to come hard. Whatever happened in the Colombo Test it gave us a lesson and we have learnt it. Now we have to apply ourselves and do whatever best can be done to win this one.”

Misbah said the absence of the two big guns of Sri Lanka cricket – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara has given his team their best chance to beat Sri Lanka and win the series.

“We have the best chance against Sri Lanka to beat them because they are without their big players like Mahela and Sanga,” said Misbah.

“We never will get a chance to beat them here with a series locked at 1-1 as we never came that close ever. We definitely want to win this. That is the feeling in the dressing room.”

Misbah admitted that it was their batting that let them down in Colombo although they were also handicapped in the bowling department by the injury to fast bowling all-rounder Wabah Riaz.

“What happened in Colombo (batting collapse) was a rare set back. In the last four to five series our batsmen have been scoring big runs against every team even against top sides.

“These kinds of things do happen sometimes but hopefully the batsmen have realized their mistakes and learnt from them and won’t repeat them.

“They are all experienced and have been scoring runs recently so there isn’t really a worry as each one of the batsman have ample runs under their belt. We are just looking forward to improve our performance with the bat,” Misbah said.

The way the first two Tests have gone Misbah is confident that a result would be obtained in this Test. Both Tests affected by bad weather finished inside four days.

“We will definitely try to have a result. The way cricket is being played it always gets you a result,” said Misbah. “But at the same time it’s important to have play on all five days. That gives you a full chance and allows you to produce a result.

“In the last two Test matches we lost a lot of time in between five days and hopefully here in Pallekele we will have a full five days play uninterrupted.”

Pakistan’s trump card in the series so far has been leg-spinner Yasir Shah who has captured 17 wickets in the two Tests.

“We understand that first two-three days are very well suited for the seamers but at the same time we are lucky to have a leg-spinner who is very effective on any kind of surface,” said Misbah.

“We felt that in Pallekele finger spinners are not that effective and a leg-spinner always has a role to play especially when you have a hard and bouncy pitch.”

With all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez having to skip the Test as he has to undergo an official test of his bowling arm in Chennai, his position as opener is likely to go to Shan Masood.

“Being with the Pakistan ‘A’ team last month Shan had scored a big century here. He might get a chance and he is good enough replacement. He is a good batsman and knocking well in the nets as well. We are hoping he is good enough to justify the chance he will get,” Misbah said.

(AFP picture by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

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