Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2012 July 14, 2012

DRS drama, and Sri Lanka move on from Murali

Five key factors and observations from the Test series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

The Decision Review System
Pakistan's coach Dav Whatmore demanded to know why it wasn't available. Mohammad Hafeez was more moderate but shared his coach's views. During the first Test in Galle, both of them said the inconsistent implementation of the DRS was affecting the game. The system was available, without Hot Spot, in Sri Lanka's previous home series, against England. When Pakistan arrived, three months later, Sri Lanka Cricket couldn't provide it because of the costs involved. Pakistan had reason to feel aggrieved. They had seven decisions going against them in the first three days of the Galle Test, with several inside edges on to pad going undetected and doubts over the trajectory of the ball during lbw decisions.

It was quite a contrast to Pakistan's previous Test series, against England in the UAE, in which the DRS played an integral part. In that series, the host board (the PCB) secured sponsors to offset the high costs of the technology needed for DRS. Perhaps SLC and other boards can follow suit.

The umpiring errors aside, Pakistan were beaten in Galle because some of their batsmen failed and they collapsed for 100 in the first innings. They were also missing Misbah-ul-Haq, who was banned for an over-rate offence. Better umpiring and DRS could have at least minimised the damage.

Barely days after the pleas from Hafeez and Whatmore, the proposal for a universal implementation of the DRS fell through at the ICC's executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur. The issue wasn't even put to vote.

Weather and scheduling
The groundstaff was kept busy right through the tour. Rain washed out the third one-day international in Colombo, and the clouds were unwelcome visitors in two of the three Tests. The weather didn't effect the Galle Test, but in spoiled the contests in Colombo and Pallekele. It ruined several hours of play on the second, third and fourth days at the SSC, making a draw inevitable. The flat pitch raised doubts about the likelihood of a result, but with Pakistan taking a 160-run lead, they could have tried to force a result if it wasn't for the stoppage time. In Pallekele, rain wiped out the entire second day, which meant both teams were short of time to push for a result.

SLC could learn from this experience and keep June and early July - the months of the southwest monsoon - free from international cricket. Pallekele, however, continues to baffle. The location of the country's newest Test venue, around half an hour from Kandy, was chosen because it's one of the drier regions in the district. Ironically, all three Tests played there have been rained-affected draws. The region was going through a drought before the third Test began.

Pakistan's youngsters
Though Pakistan lost the ODIs and Tests, the Test series defeat wasn't as demoralising because of the performances of their younger players. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been on the national circuit for the last two years, and their performances made up for the patchy form of Misbah and Younis Khan. Azhar impressed with his temperament and patience needed to play long innings; Shafiq displayed similar qualities and tightened his technique. Their innings in the final Test gave Pakistan the belief that they could save the game. Junaid Khan was a revelation with his pace, swing and aggression. Inspired by Wasim Akram, he got the ball to reverse from the round the wicket to the right-handers. He overshadowed Saeed Ajmal with his top-order strikes but lacked support. Junaid had to shoulder a lot of the burden because Aizaz Cheema, Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami turned in underwhelming performances.

Jayawardene steadies Sri Lanka
When Mahela Jayawardene took over the leadership after the tour of South Africa early this year, he was Sri Lanka's third captain in the last 12 months. His task of restoring the team's competitiveness was made tougher by the payment crisis. SLC was having financial problems and its national players were the biggest victims. The results, however, began to improve - Sri Lanka made the finals of the CB Series and won a Test against England. Jayawardene wanted a series win, which had eluded them for nearly three years. His aggressive and innovative fields showed that he was trying to create opportunities. His decision to call off Sri Lanka's chase of 271 in Pallekele had puzzled many, including Misbah, but having secured a 1-0 lead, Jayawardene didn't want to wreck several months of hard work for the sake of adventure.

Sri Lanka move on from Murali
Muttiah Muralitharan can relax now. Sri Lanka had found it hard to cope with his retirement two years ago. Ajantha Mendis' form was erratic and his fitness poor, leaving Rangana Herath with most of the responsibility. Herath has done well to come out of Murali's shadow and lead the spin attack. His challenge will be to create a threat on pitches that may not be as spin-friendly anymore. With Murali's departure, the emphasis has started to shift from spin to pace, and Sri Lanka will need more support from their seamers going forward. Bringing in the allrounder Thisara Perera for the third Test was an inspired move. His 4 for 63 and attacking 75 were good for his transition to the Test squad as a lower-order hitter and opening bowler. Nuwan Kulasekara was incisive in Galle, challenged at the SSC, but he is only building his experience at Test level. When Chanaka Welegedera and Suranga Lakmal return from injury, the competition for places will increase.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dru on July 16, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    The bottom line is SL were the better team and Pakistann lost mainly because they batted poorly and didnt hold their catches when it mattered. Pak were up against a mediocore attack compated what SL had to content with and Pakistan simply weren't good enough to take advantge. DRS and rain are irrelevant in the scheme of things. I do agree that SLC should have had the DRS in place but it wasnt and for both team. The fact that Pak may have got the rough end of the stick is just bad luck and not the reason for the lost series. I thought SL's handling of Ajmal was sensational which made a huge difference in SL getting eough runs to compete. Ajmal had very little impact except for messing up Samraweera.

  • Sinha on July 15, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Given the umpiring howlers, this was definitely not our most convincing victory. especially since it was against our very good friends from Pakistan. However, I think SL still played better cricket and deserved some credit. The go-slow at the end was a farce though...should've kept going a bit longer. Credit to Misbah for a sporting declaration.

  • Johnathon on July 15, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    BCCI needs to allow UDRS implementation so that the ICC can make sure in every country the UDRS is being used. BCCI is really extending their control far more than what it should be

  • Prashan on July 14, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    I really hope Sri Lanka cricket board will have DRS in place for all future home series. Please pay the players soon or they may go on strike. Great to see Thisara Perera perform in tests so please dont even think about taking useless Lakmal and Welegedara.

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    A series with minimum amount of controversies. Hats off to the gentleman of Pakistan, to make this possible. In T20 & ODI's, Sri Lanka need to leave out Upul Tharanga.Hes such a liability. Take a gamble with either Farveez Maharoof or Jeevan Mendis. For Pakistan solution is simple. Drop Safraz Ahmed, let Umar Akmal Keep and replace Safraz Ahmed with Hamad Azam. In test matches, Sri Lanka needs Lasith Malinga to avoid situations like 299/8 going to 380/8d.Test Match wasted. As for Pakistan, I dont see any major changes, No need of Mohammed Sami. Gamble with Aizas Cheema untill Mohammed Aamir returns.

  • Chatty on July 14, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Forget about the rankings - Pakistan and SL are top tier teams. In the very near term, once again, no team will be able to beat SL at home.

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Mahela was wrong in not going for the win but I thought he rescued Sri Lanka from becoming a minnow team..This Lankan team can become the top ODI team in the world and be among top 3 in Tests

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    good series, would have been greater if there wasn't many rain interruptions. i think where Sri Lanka improved is their batting against Pak spinners mainly, specially Ajmal was handled well even though he still got wickets. Congratz Sri Lanka. Hard luck Pakistan

  • Amjad on July 14, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    A very balanced view of the series, things could have been different in Galle test had there been DRS but we will never know now because Pakistan's batting has always been erratic to say the least but we have pulled through the past two years or so without a series defeat with the same sort of batting, remember we set a target of 145 in Abu Dhabi against England and won that test, with so many umpiring decisions going against a test team I dont think it was possible for Pakistan to pull that test off, I dont think anyone could have pulled it off! But whats done is done, hope SL can find funds to have DRS in their future games.

  • khurram on July 14, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    yes it was bad batting in 1st inings of 1st match. pak cant hide behind poor umpiring but yes it was very poor umpiring & a strong case for DRS in galle test.after that 1 inings pak played really well & good comeback. well fought series from both teams.poor fielding is a well known thing for pakistan & that came in play in final test in 1 session when they gave chances to para,parera, samara to buil lead. over all satisfactory performance. Congrats to SL for 1st win. many positives for both teams & entertaining odis i think pak lost due to very poor fielding.

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