Pakistan's convincing victories in the first two tests of the HNB series against Sri Lanka have shattered the self created myth that, " the strength of our team lies in bowling ". Keeping the World Cup 99 in retrospect, one would recall that the captain, manager and other spokesmen of the team used to openly confess and project a couple of myths i.e. superiority in bowling and the need to bat first to win a match. Such utterances were not only detrimental to the image of our team but also demoralizing for the galaxy of batsmen who felt underrated as compared to the bowlers who received full credit for the victories achieved by the team. The second, the Pakistan team was not good at chasing the target was unduly highlighted. It reflected our incompetence to face a situation that every team is expected to handle. The wide publicity given to such myths and fallacies created an adverse psychological effect on the team.
The teams are composed of three major elements, i.e. batting, bowling and fielding and the matches are won or lost on the combined strength or failure of all of them. It is off course a different matter that one may excel over the other in a particular match. Secondly, on international level, the teams must be competent enough to perform well irrespective of batting first or second. No captain can always win the toss to exercise his choice. The team management was responsible for the building up of this attitude and PCB for not placing a check on it.
In the second test at Galle, Pakistan destroyed Sri Lanka in its own backyard. This was a sweet revenge of what they did to us in March this year. The victory came as a result of outstanding performance by all the three departments of the game. The fact that Pakistan bowled out Sri Lanka twice to finish the test in four days, no doubt, proved our overwhelming strength in bowling but the performance of the batsmen who piled up a mammoth total of 600 runs in an inning including four prolific centuries could not be placed second.
Such a grand victory would not have been possible without the contribution of fielders who held some spectacular catches, besides saving lots of runs and restricting Sri lanka to small totals. So let us hope, the Pakistan team officials discard the attitude of elevating one class of players over the other. The outstanding individual performances apart, the even distribution of credit is absolutely essential to create harmony in the team and to build up confidence of the boys.
Having lost the first test at Colombo with a day to spare, Sri Lanka was certainly under pressure. Since they had clinched a test series off Pakistan only three months ago. They were absolutely flabbergasted to see the same team having transformed into a strong and awe-inspiring outfit in such a short time.
By reducing Sri Lanka to 181 runs in the first innings, Pakistan dominated them from the very first day. It was a match of historical significance in many respects. Sri Lanka would have prolonged the inning had young and talented Abdur Razzaq not struck like lightening and wiped out its tail through a spectacular hat trick. It gave a big jolt to Sri Lanka from which they could not recover till the end. The young and highly promising Jayawardene (72) and the old guard Ranatunga (51) were the two batsmen who faced the Pakistan bowlers with some confidence.
The next two days showed Pakistan's undisputed rule over Sri Lanka in which they piled up a sky rocketing total of 600 runs that included four prolific centuries. The exponents of these tons and in turn the builders of Pakistan's glorious victory were, Saeed Anwar (123) Inzamam-ul-Haq (112) Younis Khan (116) and Wasim Akram (100). Wasim Akram's century scored in 87 balls was the most vibrating, entertaining and exciting innings of the match. The most striking aspect of the innings was that-since the very start of the series, the Pakistan batsmen remained mesmerized by the Muralitharan magic. Though in this match too, Murali accounted for 4 of the 8 batsmen, the huge score of 600 had broken his ring of magic.
A target of 420 runs to win in 2 days and 25 overs was surely beyond the capacity of Sri Lanka to achieve. This could be said with absolute certainty because since start of the series the great pair of two Ws ie Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis was in devastating form. Having demolished Sri Lanka for a mere 181 in the first innings, it was not difficult to repeat its soul stirring performance.
Though under insurmountable pressure, the Sri Lankans did not appear shaken up. They put up a tough resistance till the cream of its batsmen were back to the pavilion. The old guard Ranatunga had again held the innings intact by playing the sheet anchor but could not possibly prevent the inevitable. He was out after playing a defiant innings of 65. The tail enders not being able to hold for long Sri Lanka was all out for 256.
With a prolific victory by an innings and 153 runs, Pakistan succeeded in clinching the test series against Sri Lanka. With a magnificent haul of 4 wickets in the 2nd innings Waqar Younis was the chief wrecker. The test will be remembered for Abdur Razzaq hat trick, Pakistan's massive score of 600 with four exciting tons, proving that Pakistan's batting is second to none. Skipper Moin Khan, Wasim Akram, Arshad Khan, Azhar Mahmood and other also deserve bouquets for their invaluable individual contributions.