Having been beaten easily in the one-day series to Sri Lanka, the Test series is an opportunity for the Pakistanis to turn the tables on their hosts. Unfortunately, for them they lost their skipper Misbah-ul-haq, who was banned for a Test for the slow over rate in the one-day series that preceded the Test series.
This is a problem with sub-continent teams because invariably the decision making process is by means of a mini cabinet meeting, especially during tight situations. Apart from the captain and the vice captain, the senior players, senior bowlers, all congregate, and with varying opinions being offered on who to bowl the next few overs and who to field where the time goes by quickly, and in the end the skipper pays the brunt of the punishment though the players also get fined.
These fines may not make much of a difference to the Indian players, but when it comes to the captain being banned as even Dhoni was banned for the last Test in Australia then it is a matter of great concern and needs to be addressed quickly.
Apart from missing their captain's calm presence in the middle order the Pakistanis just did not have the firepower and variety to disturb the
Lankans, who on their home pitches are formidable indeed. Dilshan, who was in such fine form in the one-day series carried on in the Test and got a classy century and Sangakkara, who also has been in great touch went on to get an unbeaten 199. It must be enormously frustrating to be left stranded one run short of a double ton though there is the satisfaction of having got a ton at least.
Ajmal got the first five wickets to fall, but was not quite able to bamboozle the batsmen as he had done in the Tests in the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan’s batsmen floundered and so Lanka won the first Test quite easily, and in a three Test series that is a big advantage as now the team that is down is the one that has to take all the chances to try and level the series.
Pakistan will need to be at their best in the remaining two Tests, but it is not going to be easy against the Lankans, who will want to avenge their loss to them in the series earlier in the year.
Elsewhere a young South African team found itself in a three way contest in the T20 series where Zimbabwe topped Bangladesh too. The series did show up some new talent some of whom may find an opening in the Sri Lanka Premier League and from there to the Indian Premier League.
Kumar Sangakkara for his match winning knock of 199 is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.
Professional Management Group