Sri Lanka’s tour of UAE is turning out to be a series of whitewashes. After being thrashed in test series, Pakistan registered a 5-0 whitewash against Sri Lanka in ODIs.
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) 23 October 2017
Coming into ODI series, the Pakistan were clear favorite with formidable bowling attack, however, there were hope of Sri Lanka standing up and at least competing after the victory in test series. Things didn’t go per plan for Sri Lanka and they lost 5-0 to a strong Pakistani team.
In the final ODI, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. However, they were quickly down to 4 wickets for just 8 runs after a terrific bowling display by Usman Shenwari. Thirimanne, Prasanna and Perera showed some resistance, but Pakistani bowlers were too hot to handle and Sri Lanka eventually folded for just 103 runs. The winning runs were scored by Imam Ul Haq, who is another find from this series.
Usman Khan ended with career best figures of 5 for 34 and was adjudged as the “Man of the match”. He is the third fastest to 5 wickets in terms of balls in an ODI innings takings just 21 deliveries.
— ICC (@ICC) 23 October 2017
In response to Sri Lanka’s small target, Pakistani openers set a good platform and ensured that Pakistan managed to win the match and series handsomely.
After a dismal performance against Pakistan, Sri Lankan management and captain have a lot to worry about as this is Sri Lanka’s third whitewash in 12 months. The first two were against South Africa and India.
For Pakistan, the batsmen were not put into any pressure apart from the 2nd ODI where they managed just 219 runs. However, Pakistan’s middle order was superb throughout the series, where Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam continued their sublime form with bat.
Babar Azam managed to score 303 with 2 centuries in the series, whereas Shoaib Malik managed 161 runs at an average of 80.50
— ICC (@ICC) 13 October 2017
The rest of the batting didn’t do much, but they chipped in with useful runs by Fakhar, Imam and Hafeez. However, the low targets from Sri Lanka made sure that Pakistan were not put into any kind of pressure throughout the series.
In the fourth ODI, Pakistan lost 3 quick wickets for just 58 runs while chasing a target of 174. Babar Azam and Malik then steadied the ship and went on to make an unbeaten partnership of 119 with both players ending up on 69 each. This consistency, maturity and skill of anchoring innings was missed badly by Sri Lankan team who didn’t manage to put even a single good partnership in whole series.
As mentioned, for Sri Lanka, there were no consistent performers like Babar or Malik. There were few good individual performances, but were not backed by other players.
Upul Tharanga scored a splendid century in 2nd match, however, managed just 87 runs in other 4 innings. Thirimanne scored 2 half centuries and was the only one who looked little bit consistent throughout the series. Thirimanne, too, had failed in the 2nd ODI which Sri Lanka could have easily won if anyone stayed with Tharanga.
Sri Lanka, apart from poor form of their main players like Chandimal, had to cope with blows of missing their main players. Mathews, Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera have been sublime for Sri Lanka, but all missed this series due to injury. Kusal Mendia, the best of their young batsmen, was dropped after 2 ODIs which was a pretty weird decision by Sri Lankan think tank. Chandimal just managed 41 runs in 5 matches. However, there is a lot of soul searching to be done by Sri Lanka to pick themselves up for next ODI series against India in India.
The Pakistani bowling lineup showed their quality once again. All bowlers stood up and complemented each other. The pacers, led by Hassan Ali, managed to pick 27 wickets out of 50 in the series. Spinners were usually were economical and they did not let Sri Lanka score freely. Muhammad Hafeez, continued excellent all-round performance even after getting reported for suspect action.
Hassan Ali was adjudged “Man of the Series” for his 14 wickets in the series and showed why he is the number 1 bowler in ODI cricket.
Due to quality bowling, and Sri Lankan batsmen’s poor form, they just managed to get a string of low scores comprising of 209, 187, 208, 173 and 103 in 5 matches.
On the other hand, Sri Lankan bowling could not be blamed much for this performance, as they had very little scores to play with. Sri Lankan bowlers were very economical and young gun Gamage was leading wicket taker form Sri Lanka with 7 wickets.
Only, if there Sri Lankan batsmen could score 250+ in all matches, we could have seen a good contest as Sri Lankan bowlers did bowl pretty decently throughout the series.
The young bowlers, Chameera and Fernando displayed good control on line and length in final ODI but didn’t manage to take any wickets as there was no scoreboard pressure on Pakistan. Spinners including Dananjaya, Vandersay and Prasanna were quite effective as well.
Overall, Sri Lankan Cricket team needs to find a good combination and give proper run to the player whom they trust such as Mendis as they play against India on their home turf. India, the number 2 cricket team, is a beast at home and it’s not easy to beat them. Before that, they have to get right combination for T20 series as well where several main players are not playing as Sri Lankan board announced to play third T20 in Pakistan.