Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2013-14 January 21, 2014

Sri Lanka seamers make big strides

Sri Lanka's marks out of ten, for the Test series against Pakistan
40

8

Shaminda Eranga (12 wickets at 28.75)
When the dust settles after the Sharjah loss, perhaps Sri Lanka will take time appreciate the efforts of their fast bowlers, who were a revelation on this tour. Accurate, persistent and generating decent movement away from the right-hander, Eranga pips Suranga Lakmal because he was more effective with the old ball, and had also hit higher speeds throughout the series. He had already gained a reputation for hard work, and the leaps he had made during nine months away from Test cricket are evidence of that. He was among the fielders to complain about bad light in the dying minutes of the series, but given he delivered 130.3 determined overs in just over three weeks, perhaps that can be forgiven.

Angelo Mathews (412 runs at 103, 2 wickets at 62)
How to rationalise Mathews' contributions to the series after what transpired on Monday? With the bat, he was extraordinary in three varied innings that were each equally vital to the team. That Sri Lanka went into the Dubai Test on even terms is largely thanks to the depth and hunger Mathews unveiled in Abu Dhabi. Even as a captain, he had not done poorly in the first 13 days of the series, because conservatism appears a sensible strategy for Sri Lanka given the personnel they have in hand. But he went several steps further and embraced negativity in the last two days, and consequently suffered a meltdown in the last two sessions. Had the Sharjah match been rained out after three days of play, Mathews would have got 9. Sri Lanka will hope he will learn from experience, but with the bat at least, he is realising his talent.

7

Prasanna Jayawardene (161 runs at 40.25)
A return to Tests after more than a year away, Jayawardene reasserted himself as one of the world's best glovemen. He didn't shell a chance, and any byes conceded were almost unpreventable. His support behind the stumps will be important as Sri Lanka seek to develop their fast bowling unit. He also struck a good medium between aggression and caution with the bat, and gets half a point for being the only Sri Lanka batsman to show signs of positivity in the second innings in Sharjah.

Suranga Lakmal (12 wickets at 33.75)
Marginally worse figures than Eranga, but with the new ball, Lakmal was perhaps the slightly bigger threat. In days gone by, it would have been inconceivable for Lakmal to average 43 overs in three back-to-back Tests, but again, his fitness is testament to his work ethic. Could do with a ball that moves in appreciably off the seam, but plenty of encouragement can be gained from his progress.

Kaushal Silva (307 runs at 51.16)
A breakthrough tour after being perennially overlooked, Silva provided security to the top of the innings, and made strong indications he is a long-term prospect for Sri Lanka. He was almost perfect in defence to both seam and swing, but did not allow too many poor balls to pass by either. Best of all, he is said to have a terrific attitude, and was also a major asset in the infield throughout the series. His 95 in Dubai was vital to Sri Lanka consolidating their position in the match.

6

Mahela Jayawardene (227 runs at 45.40)
A horror first Test and then a courageous return to form in the next match, Mahela's 129 with a stitched-up left hand was not his most attractive innings, but it outlined his understanding of the game, as well as his enduring love for it. He missed out twice on half-centuries in Sharjah, when he had seemed set for one of his big knocks. He was not on the field for most of the final day - apparently with a back complaint - and perhaps if he had been on hand to provide advice, Sri Lanka might not have been so clueless.

Nuwan Pradeep (5 wickets at 22.40)
The key ingredient to effecting Pakistan's first-innings collapse in Dubai, Pradeep reached the highest speeds of the three frontline seamers, and also moved it both ways off the deck. Will perhaps never be the persistent, reliable line and length bowler that Eranga and Lakmal promise to be, but he could in time develop into a fine attacking weapon - a good first-change bowler. His effort subsided in the second innings in Dubai, suggesting he is not as fit as the other two men in the battery, but perhaps that has also something to do with his fragility.

Rangana Herath (14 wickets at 36.64)
The pitches were clearly not as conducive to spin as expected, but for the most part, Herath found ways to be effective, often bowling in helpful tandem with either Eranga or Lakmal. Pakistan had learnt to defuse the carrom ball that had undone them in previous series, but Herath has also become more wily since they last played. Did not deserve the indignity of almost being reduced to a circus act in that final Sharjah innings, where he bowled almost exclusively outside leg stump and still went at more than five an over.

Dimuth Karunaratne (198 runs at 39.60)
Only one fifty in six innings, but runs are runs, and Karunaratne played a role in stabilising Sri Lanka's top order. He had been exposed outside off stump in Sri Lanka's last away tour, in Australia, but appears to have improved in that regard. Silva took some time to get settled at the crease, Karunaratne's positivity ensured the fast bowlers did not exert substantial pressure early on. He knows he must build on starts in the future, but there is enough about him to suggest he can succeed in the long term.

5

Kumar Sangakkara (166 runs at 33.20)
A strange series for Sangakkara, who had not missed making a hundred against Pakistan in six previous series. He was sometimes troubled by spin, as he struggled to employ the sweep effectively, but he perished softly several times, middling the ball straight to fielders, in the air. Failure often makes him hungrier. Bangladesh beware.

Dilruwan Perera (95 runs at 51.50)
Was picked in Sharjah for his bowling, but he did so little of it in the match, this mark is largely a reflection of his 95 in the first innings. He is highly rated in first-class cricket and will no doubt have more opportunities. If he can maintain a good record with the bat as well and show penetration with the ball, he could become a player that helps balance the Sri Lanka XI.

4

Dinesh Chandimal (125 runs at 25)
Hit an unruffled 89 on a flat surface in Abu Dhabi, but was otherwise disappointing, though he did get some very good balls. Those who have seen him play fine innings in Australia and South Africa cannot doubt his aptitude for Test batting, but given his poor returns in limited-overs cricket in the past few months, he will know a he needs a few big scores in Bangladesh.

3

Sachithra Senanayake
Had the misfortune of debuting on a surface that made the two best spinners in the world appear toothless, and could not take a wicket in his 23 overs in Abu Dhabi. Did good work as 12th man in the remaining Tests, and though he probably slips behind Dilruwan Perera in the spinners' queue, he will likely have more chances at this level.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sinhaya on January 25, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    @Yousufahmed1 and Fast_Track_Bully, Indians took 19 years to register their first test win but Sri Lanka took barely 4 years. That shows how pathetic have India been in cricket for the past 70 years.

  • Sinhaya on January 23, 2014, 13:14 GMT

    @Yousufahmed1and Fast_Track_Bully, India often Indians get humiliated by getting all out for double digits. That 54 all out in Sharjah highway, 66 all out in Durban are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • dummy4fb on January 23, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    abishek verma- they are miles ahead than your ashok dinda, umesh yadav, and not to mention ishant sharma.lol. cricinfo please publish

  • Fast_Track_Bully-tvumpire.com on January 23, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    @Yousufahmed1. No wonder why SL against 2 tire system, they will easily be at the bottom of group 2 below Nepal and PNG.

  • Yousufahmed1 on January 23, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    It is great to watch this associate level play.it is irony that SL is bloking other teams like uganda or png to enter to the top 10 in place of SL.i think uganda has more talented bowlers or batsmen than Sri Lanka.i hope they get a chance.

  • SriLankanYoungBlood on January 23, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    Bofore 2013 SL team is not most existing spirited team. Not only SriLankans,BD,PAK even Indian Fans regularly watched SL matches. But last year or so SL team became most ugly cricket playing nation with bunch of aged,tried,ruined seniors. not only players,selectors ,SL Media also responsible that. Most of the time i highly appreciates this writers reports because of he always see the ground reality and bitter truth but not this time. pls andrew not to be like regular SL media.

  • Yousufahmed1 on January 23, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    BIG STRIDES??? Towards what?? Extending the coveted record of not winning a single series outside SL since 2000.

  • dummy4fb on January 23, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    Great job of Misbah Ul Haq for victory of Pakistan.........

  • dummy4fb on January 23, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    Dont understand whats the fuss about Lakmal, Eranga, Pradeep.. They are absolutely ordinary and an average of around 30 confirms that they shouldn't have got 8/10 marks. On the other hand look at Junaid and co. Much better than these Lankans. Cricinfo stop giving high marks just for the sake of it

  • DreamCricketer on January 22, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    Dreamcricketer: What happened to Chandimal?? Not mentioned about is performance here.. Also he's going to captain the T20 teams.

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