Pakistan Take T20 Series

Pakistan has comprehensively defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 in the T20 International series played at Southend Club Cricket Stadium in Karachi.

The two teams will remain at the same venue for the ODI series starting 1st June. There is nothing from the cricket witnessed so far that suggests that series will be any different.

Victories by six, seven and four wickets – the last one a thriller for sure – testimony to Pakistan’s dominance. Chamari Athapaththu thrice won the toss and thrice batted. Given the results of the first two matches it might have paid to change things up in the third but it wasn’t to be.

Slick Work in the Outfield

Before analysing the batting and the bowling, a word on the ground fielding. The conditions have been very hot and humid and the outfield a little uneven in places. This did not deter either team and both must be congratulated for their superb work. There will be many grazed elbows and knees, but not one player gave less that their best in the outfield.

A little closer to the pitch and it must be said that neither wicket keeper had a good series. Both missed straight forward stumpings and would be disappointed with their work. Pakistan’s Muneeba Ali struggled to read the spin of leg-break bowler Tuba Hassan. Given that they had already won the series 2-0 with a game to play Pakistan missed an opportunity to give the gloves to debutant Gull Feroza and let Muneeba concentrate on her batting.

Paradise for Spin

None of the fast bowlers enjoyed the conditions that were far more suited to spin. The trio used by Pakistan, Aimen Anwar, Fatima Sana and Diana Baig struggled with their radar, so coupled with the conditions it was an unhappy outing for the quicks. It was a similar story for Sri Lanka’s Ama Kanchana, Achini Kulasuriya and Udeshika Prabodhani, with just one wicket between the three.

It was an entirely different story for the spin bowlers and it was Pakistan’s left-arm slow bowler Anam Amin who directed the pattern of the series from her very first over. Four balls into the series and she held a smart catch from her own bowling. Rinse and repeat for her second over finishing the match with 3-21. Anam is a Powerplay specialist and one of the best in the world at the start of the innings.

As good as Anam was, the introduction of leg spinner Tuba Hassan in her debut match certainly made lovers of old style leg spin sit up and take notice. The youngster took 3-8 and with Anam, set up a spin bowling nightmare for the opposition for the entire series.

Sri Lanka’s Oshadi Ranasinghe was the leading wicket taker (6) for the series but was playing a lone hand. With the fast bowlers ineffective and expensive and the other spin options not much better, Oshadi’s performance shines all that much brighter.

Patchy Batting

There were good batting performances mixed with some lamentable shot selection and some calamitous running between the wickets. Such is T20 cricket, it comes with the territory.

Neither team enjoyed solid opening partnerships for the entire series, save for one of 69 by Chamari Athapaththu and Hasini Perera in game three that was ended by a runout and followed by four more. The point is that there are some glaring issues for both teams at the top of the order and a bigger one for Sri Lanka: if Chamari isn’t scoring big runs then the team isn’t. It’s as plain as that.

Pakistan is right to persist with left-handed opener Muneeba Ali, for she has the ability to make that spot her own. Given her keeping mishaps it might be time to get Sidra Nawaz back in the team and allow Muneeba to concentrate fully on her batting.

Neither of Muneeba’s partners stayed around for long and surely there is a case to return Ayesha Naseem to the top of the order. The teenager’s 45 not out in the second match batting down the order won her the Player of the Match. That score equaled her best which she scored opening the batting against the West Indies in July of 2021.

Leading run scorer for the tournament was Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof (65) ahead of Sri Lanka’s Hasini Perera (63). Bismah is in very good touch and performing far better than in the recent World Cup. It augers well for Pakistan because the top order was a shambles while she was away on maternity leave.

For Sri Lanka, difficult times ahead. There is a genuine lack of a new generation of players coming through and this will become evident in series played later this year. It is an aging lineup.

All up, a good series for Pakistan with the injection of some new blood. They’ve unearthed a good spin bowler in Tuba Hassan who just adds value to an already excellent spin bowling attack. Dividends are being paid with the introduction of youth.

All Photos: © Pakistan Cricket Board


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