Even as the first day of the third Test in England got washed out and rain threatens the second day too, the T20 series in Sri Lanka between the hosts and the Pakistan team has ended level with both winning one game each. These kind of two match series is always frustrating because it usually ends up tied. Either it should be a three match series or a five match series which lets you know which team is better. Of course, if the weather plays spoilsport then it’s another matter altogether.
The Pakistanis were as always unpredictable and lost the first game which they should have won comfortably. They had dismissed the hosts for not too many and with an asking rate of just over a run a ball, which by T20 standards is a walk in the park. But trust Pakistan to make heavy weather of it. They are such a mercurial team that they can make a huge target look ridiculously simple and a small one look mountainous.
It didn’t help that Umar Gul, who bowls so well in the slog overs was carted for runs in his last over which suddenly swelled the Lankan total by a dozen runs or so. What has been seen is that whenever a team finishes with a flourish be it with the bat or the ball, the confidence level in the changing room increases manifold even though the earlier overs may have been ordinary.
That is what seemed to have happened, for the Lankan team came out charged and started picking wickets at regular intervals and ended up winning the game.
They weren’t so lucky the next game as Pakistan got their act together and with Afridi living up to his billing as a dangerous cricketer, they beat the Lankans quite comfortably and levelled the series. They also went on to win the first one dayer and have thus put the pressure back on the Lankans.
With the great Muralitharan and the canny Chaminda Vaas retired, the Lankan bowling does look a bit ordinary and not capable of taking the wickets that can win a game for them.
It is important therefore for their batting to click big time else they just don’t have enough runs on the board. When a team has a weak attack it needs the cushion of a big score to be able to put pressure on the opposition. That is not happening as the Lankans have strangely struggled to score even in their home conditions in the last year or so. They rely heavily on Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene to get them out of tight situations, but these three have not been consistent and so the big totals have not been seen on the board for Sri Lanka.
Shahid Afridi and Sohial Tanvir were the pick of the players from Pakistan. Tanvir has been in and out of the team, but his performances in the T20 games helped him to retain a place in the limited overs format and he will no doubt look to grasp the chance and cement a place for himself in the Pakistan team. However despite his fine display it is the flamboyant Shahid Afridi, who is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.
Professional Management Group