Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 83 runs in the first ODI, playing efficient cricket to dominate proceedings. The home side scored 292 in the first innings and then restricted the Lankans to 209 at the end of 50 overs.
Sri Lanka struggled with the bat, as evidenced because only one batsman had a strike rate of above 80, and their tail end scoring one-third of their score. Pakistan did well to take wickets regularly, not allowing the Sri Lankans to build any substantial partnerships.
The home side has reversed their fortunes and plucked an easy win from the tourists. Can they continue the good work?
Upul Tharanga (c), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage
Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Usman Khan
Where the Teams Stand
After the match concluded, Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas lamented on his team’s poor batting, saying they were still trying to come up with the best batting combination. The problem for him is a crippling lack of any depth in their squad. Of all the players on the bench, only Kapugedera is a batsman and a terrible one at that. His average of 21 is probably the worst for any batsman in international cricket history who has played 100 games. This is just a slap in the face for budding batsmen in the Sri Lankan domestic circuit, and Sri Lanka is not in a position to distribute spots in the squad to just about anyone.
In their defence, however, Sri Lanka is a better batting team than what the world saw in the first ODI. The amount of LBWs, bowled, and caught-behind dismissals (7 out of 8) is astonishing given the subcontinental conditions, but the only thing this batting lineup lacks is confidence. The batting is not their only concern though.
Sri Lanka’s bowling was also sub-par in the ODI. The economy rates were far too high, the wickets few and too far in between. Nuwan Pradeep was declared unfit a day before the match and was replaced by Lahiru Gamage, a mistake in hindsight given the batting issues given that Fernando is also available for selection. The spinners did well, despite Dananjaya being slightly expensive. Vandersay and Siriwardana were miserly for leaking runs but failed to pick up any wickets. This team has potential, but they need to realise it soon.
Pakistan gelled excellently as a team to win the first game of the series. Four of their top five passed 30, with Azam scoring a brilliant 103 and Malik ending with an aggressive 81 from 61. Zaman contributed with a 43. Raees and Ali took three wickets each, the latter returning to his economical and lethal best as he put in a fine performance. They controlled a large part of the match, making the Lankans work hard for every run.
Ahmed Shehzad was probably the only player on the team who did not contribute in any way, being dismissed for a duck after facing 12 balls. This is what they were missing in the Test series, all-around performances rather than over-reliance on individuals. They now have a stable batting lineup and a bowling that seems to be able to do well without some of their big names. The revamped squad has helped, and this team will be hard to beat at home.
Who will come out on top in this second clash? Let us know in the comments below…
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