Pakistan’s 4-1 series defeat at the hands of South Africa in the UAE last month now seems like a distant memory, with the national team turning around its fortune in some style since then. With two consecutive One-Day International (ODI) series wins — 2-1 against South Africa and now 3-2 against Sri Lanka in the UAE — there are clear signs that the team management, selectors and the players have learnt some lessons from the torrid time that the side went through against the Proteas. There is no better example of this than the performance of vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez, who plundered three brilliant centuries, giving no evidence that the same player had recently gone through a horrible time against the pace of South Africa’s Dale Steyn. Hafeez became only the second Pakistani to clock three tons in a series after Zaheer Abbas.
The other pleasing aspect of the win was the fine, consistent show put up by the batsmen after a long time. Along with Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Misbahul Haq and even Shahid Afridi were among the runs. Young players like Sharjeel Khan and Sohaib Maqsood, while showing glimpses of their talent, clearly need to work on their consistency. While the bowling struggled against some spirited batting in the first two ODIs, the inclusion of the experienced Umar Gul was just what was needed, with the fast bowler providing crucial breakthroughs with the new ball. Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal also showed their class, with the former ending as the highest wicket-taker in the series. Despite the fine show that Pakistan put up, it must be noted that the opposition provided by Sri Lanka was of not the same class as that provided by South Africa earlier and the 3-2 scoreline could have easily been 4-1 or even 5-0 had it not been for some good lower-order batting by Sri Lanka in the ODIs they won.
There are still areas that the team needs to work on, especially its bowling in the death overs and the need for both openers to fire at the same time. However, this win will hold the team in good stead ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka where the hosts will start out as firm favourites.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2013.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ