Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: May the best team win!

Published: October 17, 2011

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq is hoping his team can build on their recent good performance. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Pakistan will start yet another home series on neutral territory tomorrow as they take on Sri Lanka. This is the first bilateral series at a neutral territory between the two nations after the horrific attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team two years ago.

It is going to be a full series with 3 tests, 5 ODIs and a one off T20 match between two almost evenly matched sides and should be an interesting encounter. Last time Pakistan played in the Middle East against South Africa the tests were a high-scoring draw.

The test series 

Both the teams are going through a transition period - Sri Lanka have lost their most prolific bowler and the architecture of a lot of their wins in Muttiah Murlitharan. This is a huge loss for the team and according to  M Jayawardene:

“Muralithran took 800 Test wickets, the most by any bowler in the world, so you know that with him he’s going to create something for you, even in tough situations. He’s a magician, and without him it’s a big hole to fill.”

The Sri Lankan team have not won any of their last 11 test matches. In the matches played since Murlis retirement, oppositions have had a pretty easy ride. Batting is still strong and they have two (three, if you count Dilshan) world class batsmen that can rip any attack apart. It is the bowling that is a worry especially in the test arena with Malinga making himself available only for the shorter versions of the game. Their fast bowlers are very inexperienced and the only spinner that has stood out in recent times is Herath. Sri Lanka will be hoping that their top and middle order puts up a decent score on board for the bowling to show some teeth. If we go with the averages all their top order batsmen average more than ours.

Pakistan still has an unsettled opening pair. Mohammad Hafeez, who scored a century against Zimbabwe, should be joined by Taufeeq Umar at the top of the order. In Azhar Ali, Pakistan has found someone who knows the value of his wicket and is willing to make the opposition take his wicket rather than gifting it as many others do. He is the perfect man for the number 3 spot, currently. The middle order is looking good with both Younus and Misbah in good form during the past year and Pakistan will rely heavily on them during both the test series and the ODIs. There is no Umar Akmal in the team and his aggression will be missed. The spot should go to either Asad Shafiq or Shoaib Malik. Shoaib Malik wasn’t able to make an impact during his comeback in Zimbabwe and the likelihood of a test comeback at this stage looks bleak.

Bowling attack is back at full strength with the return of Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul. Aizaz Cheema who was very impressive during the tour of Zimbabwe has also found a place in the squad. Pakistan will also be banking on Saeed Ajmal, who has been our second highest wicket taker behind Gul since 2009, and Abdul Rehman who performed decently against South Africa in similar conditions.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have played out some interesting and nail biting matches over the years.

According to Misbahul Haq:

“If you look at both sides they are evenly balanced, so it’s going to be a tough series. They may have struggled in recent Tests but they have world-class players. We are without some seniors but we still have a good combination.”

Moreover, an added incentive for both teams to perform well is progressing higher in the ICC Test rankings. If Pakistan win the series by a margin of two matches (2-0 or 3-0) then we come to the number 5 spot in the test rankings and if Sri Lanka beat us in the series they will usurp Australia in the rankings.

May the best team win!

Dr Amyn Malyk

Dr Amyn Malik

A Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of the MPH program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He tweets @amynmalik

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mazher Arshad

    The Blog starts from a mistake that “It will be first bilateral series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka since Lahore attack on Sri Lankan team”.

    Lahore attack took place in March 2009 and, later in July-August 2009, Pakistan toured Sri Lanka to play 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and a T20I.Recommend

  • http://fahadrnk.wordpress.com/ Fah

    hopefully can win the series.. Sri Lanka are Giants at home tooRecommend

  • Sinha Porak

    I am not sure whether Pakistan will make it because Sri Lankans have been doing really well with a really good average. Since Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England are standing legends this is going to be a exciting game!!

    .
    can’t wait to see itRecommend

  • http://www.kinzatahir.wordpress.com Kinza Tahir

    The guy to watch out will be Nuwan Pradeep since he is a fast bowler having a slinging action, similar to Lasith Malinga’s. Can’t wait!

    Source: cricinfo.comRecommend

  • http://www.youtube.com/hachedallic Hashim Malik

    @Mazher Arshad,

    first bilateral series at a neutral territory. That July/August 2009 series was Sri Lanka’s home series against Pakistan as there would be in June 2012 as well.

    spinners would be the key I’d say..Recommend

  • Mazher Arshad

    @Hashim Malik:
    They have changed it now. Previously it wasn’t mentioned “Neutral venue”. It was just written “It will be first bilateral series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka since Lahore attack on Sri Lankan team”. Recommend

  • Mazher Arshad

    @Hashim Malik:
    They have rectified the mistake now. Previously “neutral venue” wasn’t mentioned. Still its bit absurd to mention that its first bilateral series “after lahore attacks” as this is first ever bilateral series between Pak and SL on neutral venue. Only one Test has been played by two countries at neutral venue was back in 1999 Dhaka which was final of Asian Test Championship aRecommend

  • http://www.youtube.com/hachedallic Hashim Malik

    true, Mazhar.Recommend