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Arjuna Ranatunga's Sri Lankans created history by winning a Test series against Pakistan for the first time in six attempts. Their triumph was the more remarkable for the fact that they had lost the First Test by an innings in four days. Over the next fortnight, they came back strongly to level the rubber at Faisalabad and then crush Pakistan at Sialkot. Curiously, they were the third team to come from behind to win a three-Test series in 1995, following South Africa against New Zealand in January, and Pakistan in Zimbabwe a month later; the only previous instance had been England against Australia in 1888. The pattern was repeated in the ensuing one-day series, where Sri Lanka bounced back from a nine-wicket defeat for another 2-1 win. They had never won any series in Pakistan before, Test or limited-overs, but their success followed straight on from their first ever Test win overseas, against New Zealand the previous March. Deservedly, they returned home to a tumultuous welcome, and were driven through the streets of Colombo in a cavalcade.
For Pakistan, however, their first home series defeat since 1980-81, when they lost to Clive Lloyd's West Indians, added to a sense of crisis. Their former captain, Salim Malik, had been suspended in March after three Australian players accused him of attempted bribery; investigations were continuing and he was not considered for selection, despite an attempt to secure reinstatement through the law-courts.
The home team's new captain was Ramiz Raja, who started with the resounding victory at Peshawar but then saw his team's form slide. Pakistan were weakened by the absence of Malik and his brother-in-law Ijaz Ahmed, also under the cloud of disciplinary charges. Javed Miandad had declared himself unfit and Pakistan's famous pace duo, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, did not last the series. Waqar, who had left the tour of South Africa with a back injury, looked rusty and unfit; he withdrew after the First Test to seek full match fitness in domestic cricket. Wasim played the key role in Pakistan's victory at Peshawar but was then forced out by a damaged shoulder, which prevented him from bowling after the first innings of the Second Test. After that, Aqib Javed took over as the spearhead, taking 16 wickets at 19.56 apiece, and there were promising Test debuts for off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq and seamer Mohammad Akram. A teenaged opening batsman, Salim Elahi, scored 102 in a dazzling one-day debut. But the other Ijaz Ahmed (five months younger than his unrelated namesake), who had a reputation as a prolific batsman for Faisalabad and Allied Bank, failed to make much impression and was dropped by the final Test. In both defeats, it was the wicket-keeper, Moin Khan, who saved Pakistan from complete embarrassment, particularly in the final innings at Sialkot, where he came in at 15 for five and scored an unbeaten 117.
The tourists' most reliable batsman was Hashan Tillekeratne, who played magnificently in all the Tests and averaged 56.20. He made 115 out of a meagre first-innings 223 to keep Sri Lanka in the game at Faisalabad; Aravinda de Silva scored the century that put them in control in the second innings, but it was one of the few occasions when he came to terms with conditions in Pakistan after his season in English county cricket. Chandika Hathurusinghe was almost as steady as Tillekeratne, and Ranatunga played some fine innings in both series. The most successful bowler was off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, with 15 wickets at 27.33, who became Sri Lanka's leading wicket-taker during the tour; left-arm medium-pacer Chaminda Vaas was close behind, with 13 at 19.53. But, after their initial defeat, the Sri Lankans played better cricket all round: they bowled better, fielded better and, in a generally low-scoring series, batted with greater consistency.
A. Ranatunga (Sinhalese SC) (captain), R. S. Mahanama (Bloomfield C and AC) (vice-captain), P. A. De Silva (Nondescripts CC), H. D. P. K. Dharmasena (Bloomfield C and AC), C. I. Dunusinghe (Antonians SC), A. P. Gurusinha (Sinhalese SC), U. C. Hathurusinghe (Tamil Union), S. T. Jayasuriya (Bloomfield C and AC), M. Muralitharan (Tamil Union), K. R. Pushpakumara (Nondescripts CC), S. Ranatunga (Nondescripts CC), D. P. Samaraweera (Colts CC), K. J. Silva (Sinhalese SC), H. P. Tillekeratne (Nondescripts CC), W. P. U. J. C. Vaas (Colts CC), G. P. Wickremasinghe (Sinhalese SC).
M. Munasinghe (Sinhalese SC) withdrew through injury before the tour and was replaced by Dharmasena. R. S. Kalpage (Bloomfield C and AC), R. S. Kaluwitharana (Galle CC) and E. A. Upashantha (Colts CC) joined the party for the one-day internationals.
Manager: L. R. D. Mendis. Coach: D. F. Whatmore.
Test matches - Played 3: Won 2, Lost 1.
First-class matches - Played 5: Won 2, Lost 2, Drawn 1.
Wins - Pakistan (2).
Losses - Pakistan, PCB Patron's XI.
Draw - Pakistan Cricket Board XI.
One-day internationals - Played 3: Won 2, Lost 1.
Match reports for