Pakistan Win ODI Series

Consolation Win for Sri Lanka But Pakistan Win Series 2-1

A sixth ODI century for Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu led them to victory in the final ODI at Karachi but Pakistan already had two wins under their belt to seal the series win. It broke a run of five consecutive defeats for the visitors on the tour having already lost the T20 series 3-0.

Pakistan’s coaching team will be keen to put the loss behind them for some of the poor batting habits of 2021 were evident in the final match, especially with a tri-series in Ireland in July which also includes heavyweights, Australia.

For Sri Lanka they will head home for a possible home series against India, yet to be confirmed.

The Player of the Tournament was an easy choice for the adjudicators, with 218 runs at 72.66 and including a personal best of 123, it was no surprise that it was Sidra Amin.

They don’t receive awards for good service but the umpiring team performed with great competence throughout the tournament and in the main, went unnoticed. A couple of LBW decisions could have gone either way but that is being picky. They did a good job.

So too the video production team. The PCB must be congratulated for the excellent production they provided to fans across the globe on their YouTube channel. The games were all broadcast live with excellent viewership and also provided highlights packages for those who missed the games. This series was the headline banner for the channel. These little things underline just how much effort the PCB is putting into women’s cricket.

Pakistan

There would have to be a little concern about the team dropping in intensity for the last game. Yes it was a dead rubber and of course the opposition is allowed to improve, but after winning the first two matches convincingly it was disappointing to see an ordinary performance in the final encounter.

There were so many good signs in the first two matches. Far too often in 2021 the team was five down for not many and a rescue mission was needed by Nida Dar. In this series Nida had very little time in the middle with the bat. That means that the top order was working.

The openers, Sidra Amin and Muneeba Ali for the main part performed excellently. Muneeba’s 56 in the second ODI was a case of making ugly runs. She’s not been in the best of form but this innings showed great courage to fight through. Sidra’s century is not too far in time from her debut hundred at the World Cup in March. These two are worth sticking with for some time.

Bismah Maroof also found some form with the bat, so Pakistan’s top order is firing. Aliya Riaz scored a half century in the last match but has struggled to get on the pitch at all, given the performance of the top three. It might pay to get her up the order occasionally just to keep her in form. She’s a special player and could easily bat at three. On a side note Aliya was outstanding in the field. A very safe pair of hands.

The superb left-arm slow bowler that is Anam Amin was unused in the first two matches. Why? She is easily the best of this style of bowling in Pakistan and was outstanding in the T20 series. She will be a handful in Ireland. Leg spinner Ghulam Fatima started well but didn’t manage to find the same form at the end. Still, quite a handful for the batters. Pakistan has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to spin bowling.

The wickets were graveyards for fast bowlers, yet somehow Fatima Sana managed to find a way to take wickets and her star continues to rise. That she was the leading wicket taker in the ODI series is proof positive. Diana Baig went wicketless throughout the series but bowled with reasonable economy in difficult conditions. Both of these quicks will love touring Ireland.

Finally for Pakistan, the wicket keeper. Gee it was good to see the masterclass provided by Sidra Nawaz who is in excellent form with the gloves. The selectors would do well to include this player in the T20 teams as well, for she adds value and class to the role.

Sri Lanka

If you look around the world at the moment, every team seems to have a right/left opening batting combination and then switch three and four to suit to keep the mismatch going and the bowlers guessing. Sri Lanka has three left-handers at the top of the order. It’s not working, even a little bit, so it is surely worth trying the combination that works for every other team.

It is simply a tactical blunder to have three of the same-handed batters at the top – except for one circumstance and that is that they are all scoring runs. In Sri Lanka’s case, that is simply not happening.

Too often the team’s fortunes live or die on the runs scored by Chamari Athapaththu. The skipper has eight of the team’s top ten scores in ODIs. That is great for Chamari and worthy of celebration but cricket is a team sport and more players need to step up.

There is at least some positive news in a team where youth is a rarity. Both Kavisha Dilhari and Harshitha Madavi had personal high scores with the bat. These are the players who must carry the torch into the future.

The bowling? Some bright moments by Oshadi Ranasinghe but beyond that there isn’t much to sing about.

A key issue for this team is the age factor. Yes it is absolutely vital to have a good blend of experience and youth. Sri Lanka certainly tick the box for experience, but there does seem to be a real lack of the next generation coming through. Hopefully there is a bunch of youngsters back at home ready to step up to the next level. It is needed.

What’s next? More cricket for the island nation with India touring (hopefully) at month’s end. It will be welcome for Sri Lanka.

All photos: Pakistan Cricket Board

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