Pakistan rediscover the challenge of Test cricket
Pakistan's opportunities to win both matches in this series illustrate the fascination of Test cricket but were false hopes. Test cricket is an examination of skill way beyond the Twenty20 variety. A win in this series would have been even more remarkable than the events in England, and Pakistan fans should reserve their judgment.
The fundamental problem for Pakistan's players is their lack of international cricket, and in particular Test cricket, over the last 18 months. There is no substitute for match practice and Pakistan's cricketers have suffered. Add to this an inadequate domestic structure and you have the recipe for the kind of failures that Younis Khan's team has just experienced.
Clearly, there are areas for improvement, and they are the same ones that have been discussed for a decade. An unsure and unsettled opening partnership. A middle order that fires sporadically but rarely when it matters. And a collective psychology and spirit that can turn victory into defeat rather than the other way round.
Younis will work on these areas. He will be bitterly hurt by these defeats and the failures of his senior colleagues, players he should be able to rely upon. Yet he is right to say that his team deserves time. Failures of technique and temperament can be masked in a Twenty20 sprint but Test cricket exposes the slightest weakness.
Pakistan's plan in Test cricket has to be set over the next two to three years. It will require that amount of time to build a team that consistently challenges in Test cricket. What's more, success in Test cricket cannot be achieved without a proper coach and management to support Younis and that requires the PCB to get its house in order.
Yet Pakistan should take away some positives. Mohammad Aamir impressed in the first Test, and can become a bowling hero. Fawad Alam was finally awarded an opportunity and it says something about his mindset that he scored a debut century in a crisis situation.
Pakistan could have been crushed in this series. In the end, both wins proved comfortable for Sri Lanka but Pakistan did compete enough to suggest better days ahead. The fact that they might have won both matches was the biggest surprise of all.
Pakistan have simply rediscovered how tough the challenge of Test cricket truly is.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here