20th February 2000
Lanka firm favourite for the Tests now
From Samiul Hasan
Sri Lanka completed a well-deserved and comprehensive 3-0 series victory against Pakistan at their happy hunting ground in Lahore on Saturday. Almost four years ago, they had won the World Cup here and now their first-ever clean sweep over Pakistan in nearly 18 years.
However, the Sri Lankans were not made to sweat after Pakistan cricket administrators went for radical changes in the team following a disastrous tour of Australia. But in no circumstances, can credit be taken away from Sri Lanka for thier marvellous allround performance.
They were athletic in the field, determined with the bat and bowled according to a plan. Pakistan, on the contrary, appeared nothing more than beginners when they were pathetic in all the departments of the game. To rub salt in the wound, Saeed Anwar ended up with less than a motivator and man with no ideas.
While Sri Lanka should go on flying from here to the Test series, the biggest question is what Pakistan will do? Will Saeed Anwar lose his job? Will some of the sacked senior players be recalled? Will the much publicized process of rebuilding the team for 2003 World Cup be aborted? It is going to be a test of strength of the cricket administrators.
To begin with, I always felt that the procedure of rebuilding the team was absurd. The way the officials went for sweeping changes, it was apparent they were determined to settle personal scores than rebuilding the team. Ramiz Raja and Javed Miandad were once victims of a conspiracy allegedly hatched by Wasim Akram. So now they allegedly took their chance to get rid of Akram. Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi and Ijaz Ahmad were ousted because of Miandad's disliking. It would not be out of context to mention here that Moin Khan is next on the list of these two advisors of Pakistan Cricket Board chairman General Tauqir Zia.
What the officials should have done was the keep faith on Akram and pressurized him to continue leading the team, particularly after the morale of the side was at its lowest ebb following thrashing in Australia.
Then, the officials should have retained pinch-hitter Shahid Afridi in the team because all know how good a batsman he is on slow and low bouncy pitches. Besides, Afridi is a pure youngster, a good athlete and a useful bowler. Inzamam's is a world class player and at the time when he is struggling for form, the best way was to give him confidence rather than show him the door. As Sunil Gavaskar says: "Class is permanent, lean patch is temporary."
Now what actually happened was that recalled 33-year-old Aamir Sohail failed to deliver the goods and also denied a place which actually should have gone to a youngster if rebuilding of the team was the strategy. Then by not including Inzamam, the cricket administrators weakened the middle-order and as results of the three one-day internationals show, it was the batting which let the team down. Only fools would draft two young and inexperienced middle-order batsmen in one-day internationals and then the skipper would opt to field first instead of batting first.
I always considered this match very important. I am convinced that this match will have a lot of bearing on the forthcoming series. The Sri Lankans have passed on a very clear message to Pakistanis that they will not be an easy nut to crack. The other significant part of the one-day series is that Sri Lankans will go in the match convinced that they have the ability to beat Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan will doubt about their bowling and batting prowess. The bowlers failed to dismiss Sri Lanka in any of the three matches while never crossed the 230-mark in the entire series.
Reverting to the third one-dayer, the clear difference between the two teams was Marvan Atapattu. Atapattu, in the series, showed what actually is the difference between a good player and a world-class player. Century at Karachi and half centuries in Gujranwala and Lahore. What else the skipper can ask for from him.
Mahela Jayawardena showed flashes of his brilliance but tends to lose his concentration. That's been his story throughout the series. He has started promisingly and perished to disappointing shots. Russel Arnold hasn't shown much of himself but he is a talented player, maybe better suited to conventional form of cricket.
Wasim Akram and Abdur Razzak bowled beautifully and helped Pakistan restrict Sri Lanka to 241. They could have curtailed Sri Lanka to around 230 had Moin Khan not dropped catches of successive overs and the fielders in the 30-yard hit the sticks with their direct throws.
241 was always a reachable target on a slow and good batting track but one marvellous catch turned the match around.
Russel Arnold picked up a blinder of Saeed Anwar and Pakistan never recovered after that. It was a perfect example of what one piece of extra effort can do to the match.
Yousuf Youhana has played some exquisite innings in his brief career. But today, he deserved a kick in his pants. First his horrendous 'yes, no' call ended the innings of debutant teenager Faisal Iqbal and later he ran all over the field to get himself out. Having played cricket at the highest level for nearly three years, you don't expect players to make suicidal calls and run in the fashion like Youhana did. Here, the coaching of Intikhab Alam comes into question. One wonders if he is telling the players anything or just occupying the dressing room as a spectator.
Pakistan is already 'blessed' with one of the worst runners in Inzamam. Can it afford another one like Youhana? Your guess is the same as mine.
Full marks to Sri Lanka for putting up a thorough professional cricket. This consistent performance can make teams like Australia and South Africa proud of.
The Sri Lankans also showed the progress they have made since starting the resbuilding process after the World Cup debacle.
Test series will be a different ball game but with the Sri Lankan's confidence bubbling, they would start as firm favourites.
Pakistan will now have to play out of their skins if they have to leave any impression on the followers of the game. However, the way they have played the one-day series, only a miraculous performance can save them .
S.Jayasuriya c Azhar Mahmood b Wasim 10
R.Kaluwitharana lbw b Razzaq 35
M.Atapattu c Saeed Anwar b Wasim 77
M.Jayawardene c and b Saqlain 43
R.Arnold run out 4
T.Dilshan c Moin Khan b Razzaq 17
C.Vaas c Sub (Imran Nazir) b Razzaq 6
U.Chandana b Wasim 16
M.Muralitharan b Razzaq 0
P.Wickremasinghe not out 10
N.Zoysa not out 3
Extras (lb-11 w-8 nb-1) 20
Total (for nine wickets, 50 overs) 241
Fall of wickets: 1-19 2-64 3-148 4-161 5-196 6-205 7-224
Bowling: Wasim Akram 10-3-38-3 (w-1), Shahid Nazir 10-0-48- 0 (nb-1, w-1), Abdur Razzaq 10-0-36-4 (w-1), Azhar Mahmood
1-0-6-0, Saqlain Mushtaq 10-0-43-1, Aamir Sohail 7-0-43-0 (w- 2), Faisal Iqbal 2-0-16-0 (w-3)
Saeed Anwar c Arnold b Wickremasinghe 30
Aamir Sohail c Kaluwitharana b Zoysa 6
Younus Khan lbw b Zoysa 11
Yousaf Youhanna run out 7
Faisal Iqbal run out 4
Moin Khan b Jayasuriya 14
Abdur Razzaq b Muralitharan 22
Wasim Akram b Jayasuriya 29
Saqlain Mushtaq lbw b Vaas 2
Shahid Nazir not out 0
Azhar Mahmood retired absent
Extras(lb-7 w-5) 12
Total (all out, 39.3 overs) 137
Fall of wickets:1-26 2-48 3-48 4-57 5-60 6-96 7-112 8-125
Bowling: Zoysa 8-2-30-2, Vaas 7-0-12-1(w2), Wickremasinghe
7-0-19-1, Muralitharan 8-2-29-1(w1), Jayasuriya 7.3-0-27-2,
Chandana 2-0-13-0 (2w).
Result: Sri Lanka won by 104 runs for 3-0 series win.
First match: Sri Lanka won by 29 runs
Second match: Sri Lanka won by 34 runs.
Bernie Wijesekera reporting from the Gadaffi Stadium
LAHORE, Saturday. The new look Sri Lanka team outplayed and outclassed Pakistan to win the one-day series 3-0 when they annihilated the hosts by 104 runs in the final game played here today.
Sri Lanka sent into bat made 241 for nine. Pakistan in reply were bowled out for 137 runs in 39.3 overs.
It was yet another feather in the cap for Sri Lanka skipper Jayasuriya. The team with a united effort excelled in all departments of the game.
Pakistan skipper Saeed Anwar said Sri Lanka deserved to win as they were right on top in the series. Further their hawk-eyed fielding contributed much towards their success. But the Test series is a different ball game he added.
Jayasuriya said that he was pleased with the performance of the players. He paid a glowing tribute to Marvan Atapattu, who was adjudged the Man of the Match for the second occasion. The bowlers did their job well. The fast men to a line and Murali too was in the thick of things with his wiles. Murali is now looking forward to give off his best in the Test series too.
Pakistan chasing a victory target of 243 to win were all at sea against the hostile trio - Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Zoysa and Wickremasinghe. Left arm paceman Zoysa playing his first match in the series made a tremendous impact. Anwar was on the look out for runs, but Sohail never looked comfortable and was the first to go when he nicked Zoysa to keeper Kaluwitharne in the bowler's fourth over for six. The Pakistanis crawled to 48 for one in 15 overs. Anwar went for 30 when Arnold held a sprawling catch at short mid-wicket for 30 (with two fours in 45 balls). Zoysa got another wicket in his seventh over when Younis Khan was leg before for 11. 48 for 3. At this stage the Pakistani batting was in tatters. Two brilliant run outs followed in its wake. First by Jayawardena when he ran out debutant Faisal Iqbal and Jayasuriya's bird's eye throw had Youhana stranded for 7. The scores were 60 for 5 in 20.3 overs at this stage and the writing was on the wall for Pakistan to suffer their second one-day whitewash at home.
In 1998-'99 they suffered a similar setback against Australia. Moin Khan and Razzaq tried to bring some respectability to the total, but it was a lost cause with the Sri Lankans giving nothing away.
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