Former cricket greats Tuesday celebrated Pakistan's unexpected run-chase to their seven-wicket win in the third Test against Sri Lanka, handing them their first series victory over the hosts in nine years. Set a daunting 377 to win the decisive Test, Pakistan rode on a brilliant unbeaten 171 from Younis Khan -- his 30th Test hundred -- and a maiden century by opener Shan Masood to clinch the match by seven wickets.
The win gave Pakistan a 2-1 series win and lifted them to third spot in the International Cricket Council Test rankings. Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq praised the "historic" victory. "It's a historic win," Inzamam told AFP. "The win is more praiseworthy because we are considered weak chasers but the boys led by Younis and Masood helped clinch that in a remarkable way which I know lot of people would not have expected."
Inzamam said Pakistan's determined fightback would give them confidence in future Tests. "I am pleased with the team's ability to fight back because after getting bowled out for 215 in the first innings it was difficult to come back and Sri Lanka were dominant but Pakistan put up a brilliant fightback and to be able to score 377 in the last innings will give confidence to the team for future. "It will give them the belief that they can chase 350-plus or 400 in future Tests."
Inzamam anchored Pakistan's best previous chase, 314 against Australia in Karachi in 1994 with a fighting half-century. "It is good that that long-standing record is now erased," he said. Inzamam singled out Younis, saying he "has proved to be the key and has reposed the confidence a team can have in a senior player". Younis's hundred was his fifth in the second innings of a Test -- a world record beating India's Sunil Gavaskar and England's Geoff Boycott who had four.
Former star batsman Javed Miandad said the win would lift Pakistan in Tests. "It's a remarkable win," said Miandad. "The chase has proved that our players are capable and have the potential to be the best in the world." The former captain was also full of praise for Younis.
"I can't say much, but his performance speaks for him," said Miandad of Younis who crossed legendary Australian batsman Don Bradman's 29 centuries. "Younis is the most focused player and the best thing about him is that if he makes a mistake one day then he overcomes that the very next day and his fitness is the best in the whole team." Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan also congratulated the team.
"I felicitate the team on this superb Test series victory. At Pallekelle, Team Pakistan fought its way back to seal the Test and with it the rubber with remarkable, positive cricket as Younus and young Masood batted outstandingly well in a Pakistan record stand," he said in a message. "Winning an away series is never easy, and it is Pakistan's first in Sri Lanka since 2006. In that context, this is all the more commendable."