Pakistan won the first ODI by 7 wickets, bowling Sri Lanka out for 102 in the first innings before chasing the score down in 17.2 overs. The Pakistani bowlers put up yet another commendable display to give their team a comfortable victory.
As for the Sri Lankans, this series would always be a train wreck the moment they announced their new squad. Their problems do not look like they will end soon. The domestic players will need time to showcase their talent, a precious commodity for the Lankans. Time, however, is the one thing they do not have as the second T20 is scheduled to take place less than a day after the first one. Can they adapt in time to produce a miracle?
Thisara Perera (c), Dilshan Munaweera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Dasun Shanaka, Sachith Pathirana, Vikum Sanjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Chaturanga de Silva, Minod Bhanuka.
Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan, Umar Amin.
Where the Teams Stand
It is hard to look for positives in a game where the team scores only 102, with only two batsmen passing 20. The fifth ODI saw a very similar score from the Lankans despite playing with their full strength squad, so the B team scoring as much in their first attempt is commendable despite the change in format. Sri Lanka seems to have embraced their inferiority, excluding all the four bowlers from the ODI squad to give their youngsters a chance. A smart move, one that would have required nerve from captain and coach.
Their bowlers put up a decent effort to make Pakistan work for their runs, taking two early wickets and forcing them to take the game into the 18th over for a 100 run chase. Sanjaya took both wickets, finishing with figures of 2-20 in four overs. There is only so much they can do with 102 runs, and if the batsman had given the bowlers more to play with, things may have turned out differently.
Pakistan’s bowling has always been its strength. They have produced some of the best bowlers the world has ever seen, and the trend continues today. Hasan Ali is the number one ODI bowler according to ICC’s rankings, deservedly so after consistent performances over a long period. He was amongst the wickets once again, taking three wickets in the game. Usman Khan’s rise continued as he managed two more wickets after his fifer in the fifth ODI, keeping Mohammad Amir out of the team. The rest also contributed with a wicket or two, putting up a well-rounded display of bowling, one the Pakistanis are renowned for now.
After being dropped in the ODIs, Ahmed Shehzad returned to the first team for the T20. However, his poor run continued as he managed 22 from 32 balls, playing an awkward innings which will not satisfy the captain. In light of Zaman and Azam’s early departure, the slow innings was perhaps the way to go, but Shehzad failed to pick up the pace once Malik was steady at the crease.
Speaking of Malik, he continues to be an indispensable part of the batting lineup. He carried his team to a victory with a resolute 42 from 31 balls, complemented by Hafeez to make sure that Pakistan got to the required score. Hafeez too struggled for runs in the ODIs, and this innings of 25 from 23 should help his confidence for the second ODI. Overall, Pakistan were efficient, and their successful run is bound to continue.
Can Pakistan make it 2-0, or will Sri Lanka bounce back? Let us know in the comments below.
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