Falling to Zimbabwe, followed by sheer humiliation from India, the team once shined in the likes of- Sanga, Jayawardene never looked this vulnerable.
No doubts about the talent but lack of practice, maybe?
The Sri Lankan opener Dilmuth Karunaratne have already uttered about the lack of domestic events in the country.
Will the team rise and come back to where they belong?
This Pakistan tour so far revealed how the players have evolved into a team. Bouncing back after being washed out by the Indian team, To write-off all the negativity, rumours and everything, the Sri Lankan team wanted someone to take charge.
The first test demanded calm and composure that was rightly provided by Chandimal and Karunaratne; Their most experienced candidate Herath stood apart with the ball. The players very well complemented each other, that’s a sign for growth-something you’ll see in the top teams.
Wasn’t Pakistan deserved to win the test?
If you ask, yes they should’ve won it, but wasted the opportunity. Eight hours, small total to chase, ten wickets in hand, the match was a cake-walk for the home team but was deceived by the spin-web of Herath; 400 wickets in the tests, 100 wickets against Pakistan explains how dangerous he is. Pakistan on the other hand, couldn’t do much but blame themselves for letting the match go.
Since UAE has become their adopted home, Pakistan who has never tasted defeat at home; was taken aback after the first test loss. There was too much pressure on the young unit to avoid the series defeat.
The second test was better, compared to the first ‘yawning’ test. It had some good shots; attacking display.
Sad that Karunaratne missed his maiden 200; Still, one of the best knocks-class bound with control. The quick cameos from the lower middle order proved vital for Sri Lanka.
Later, the Pakistan’s defence was broken by remarkable spells from the Sri Lankan bowlers, made things hard for Pakistan. The batsmen were double-minded with almost every shot they played; Later in the innings, the reverse swing proved to be an advantage for the visitors.
Wahab Riaz’s inclusion was questioned after his 7-minute over, where he missed his run-up multiple times. In the second innings, He made justice by heading the bowling attack to demolish the visitors and reduce them less than 100.
Though they were on top, Sri Lanka knew they had some work to do. Pakistan has always produced their best when they have nothing to lose. From 52-5 to 225-6, the run was something memorable. Sarfaraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq brought back the pretty one-sided match to balance. Going into the last day, some poor shot selection yet again proved costly for Pakistan. Sri Lanka needed to break the partnership very early that day, they correctly did. A record has been made, Sri Lanka became the first team to beat Pakistan in UAE. The chagrin they faced at home only bettered them as a team, breaking all the shackles.
Now, Where do both the teams stand in ODI?
Once a champion, Sri Lanka’s reality now- had to pray for Windies’ loss for a direct entry to the upcoming World Cup in England.
While Pakistan hasn’t played an ODI since their faith-restoring victory upon India in the Champions’ trophy final, Sri Lanka has been white-washed in the five-match ODI series by the same opponent- India.
Something Sri Lanka would love to erase from the recent past will be the home series defeat against Zimbabwe; Probably their worst home season ever!
Take this test series, they were fine, wrapped it. The 2-0 sweep has put the visitors in the driver seat right before the start.
Pakistan’s Amir ruled out- means other pacers have some extra work to do, particularly, Wahab Riaz. Fakhar Zaman, the Centurian from the Champions trophy final, will hold the key; The most experienced Shoaib Malik’s return is a plus; Interesting to see how and when Imam-ul-Haq will play.
Sri Lanka’s Akila Dananjaya produced a 6/54 spell versus India; will have to lead the bowling as other bowlers are little off-form. In the batting department- with ever-dependable Chandimal, attacking Dickwella, in-form Thirimanne, the young talent Kusal Mendis, combined with the experience of Thisara Perera and Kapugedera, the team look strong but the inconsistency has hurt them in the past, they will keep an eye on that.
The same stadium where Pakistan failed to save the series; this is a different ball game and Pakistan will try carrying the momentum from the champions’ trophy.