When Pakistan arrived in Sri Lanka for the Test and one-day series, they faced a daunting task. History was against them. They hadn’t won either a Test series or a one-day series in the island nation in nearly a decade. But, they have reversed the same with some fantastic performances in both formats of the game. First, they beat the Sri Lankans 2-1 in their home den in the Tests, and now have gone on to conquer the one-day series as well. Notwithstanding an erratic effort in the final ODI, they were the better side throughout, and deservedly won the series.
If Pakistan look back at their performance in the one-dayers, they would be extremely pleased with their efforts both in the batting and bowling department. There were contributions all round, and were extremely consistent as well, something you do not associate with the Pakistan team. In contrast, Sri Lanka suffered in the batting department as their batsmen never converted starts. Their bowling also wasn’t up to the mark. They did not make any kind of impression on the Pakistani batting, but for the final match in which they were defending a huge score.
Pakistan with look back at their batting performance with great pleasure. It was a rare instance wherein their top six batsmen displayed a lot of consistency throughout the series. Skipper Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad gave the team some very good starts. As leader, Azhar still has to prove himself, but his leadership has definitely infused a new lease of life in the Pakistan camp. As for Shehzad, he is coming of age with every series he plays and, as a pair, Azhar and Shehzad have been instrumental in the turnaround of Pakistan’s fortunes.
Also critical to Pakistan’s success has been Mohammad Hafeez. Although he was banned from bowling in the second half of the series, he had done a great deal in the first two games. And, he continued to sore runs even as he wasn’t allowed to bowl. A mention also needs to be made of Shoaib Malik. The veteran had been out of the selectors’ radar for a while, but has returned with a bang, and proved why he is such a big asset to the side when in form. Last, but not the last, Sarfraz Ahmed continued to shine with the bat, and behind the stumps.
Pakistan’s bowlers had a mixed run, but Mohammad Irfan, Yasir Shah and Rahat Ali, among others, took turns to shine. This was in stark contrast to Sri Lanka’s performance. Their batters failed as unit, with the likes of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne and Upul Tharanga not standing up for the team. By the time they did, it was too late. With the ball as well, Lasith Malinga was a major let down, and the likes of Suranga Lakmal and Sachith Pathirana failed to impress. It was a pretty much forgettable series for Lanka.
-- By A Cricket Analyst