The Pakistanis arrived in Colombo in July expecting a demanding tour. Their previous visit in 1985-86, when the Sri Lankans' uncompromising play had earned their first Test victory over Pakistan, had been soured by their suspicions of the local umpiring. Moreover, it was only six months since Salim Malik had inherited the captaincy, after a player-mutiny displaced his predecessor.
But the trip was to be a triumph for Malik and his new-look Pakistan team. It did indeed turn out to be a tough one, but only off the field, as political unrest over Sri Lanka's general election disrupted the itinerary and caused several anxious moments for the visitors. By winning both the Tests played and taking the one-day series - extended to five matches - 4-1, Pakistan became the first team for ten years to return from Sri Lanka as complete victors.
The Second Test, due to begin a few days after the election, was called off by the Sri Lankan board, which said a curfew made the match impossible; they added two extra one-day internationals to the programme instead. The change of plan was not announced until what should have been the first morning of the match, and annoyed those who thought that, in view of Sri Lanka's need for Test experience, preserving the five-day fixture should have been the board's priority. The home team's limited-overs record was less of a worry, it was argued: they had not lost one of the six limited-overs series played on the island in the previous two seasons.
Wasim Akram, at least, benefited from the altered programme - in the fifth one-day match he overtook Kapil Dev's record of 251 wickets in limited-overs internationals. He and Waqar Younis were the main difference between the two sides, taking a combined total of 27 wickets in the Tests. In the First Test at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, they exposed Sri Lanka's fallibility against top-class pace bowling, even though the pitch had been prepared for the home attack of three spinners and only one fast bowler. Though Waqar was recovering from an appendix operation in the early part of the tour, he found his rhythm to destroy the Sri Lankans in the final Test at Kandy with 11 wickets for 119. For Sri Lanka, the young off-spinner, Kumara Dharmasena, was the most successful bowler, with 12 wickets in the two Tests, but he never really looked capable of running through the strong Pakistani batting line-up. Malik had a wonderful series, not only as captain but also finding fine form with the bat, especially in the one-day games. Saeed Anwar batted with consistent excellence, compared with the erratic brilliance of Aravinda de Silva for Sri Lanka.
The hosts had hoped the series would provide a chance for Sri Lankan cricket to redeem itself after a string of defeats and controversies. After a 3-0 thrashing in India in January and February, the Sri Lankan board received an adverse report on captain Arjuna Ranatunga's conduct of the tour, and there were stories of a rift between Ranatunga and other senior players, notably Asanka Gurusinha. Worse was to follow: days before the Austral-Asia Cup in Sharjah, Ranatunga and several others pulled out. They objected to new and rigorous fitness tests and rebelled against the decision to drop leading batsman De Silva, who had failed them. Opener Roshan Mahanama was appointed captain but the team fared badly. Sri Lanka still required the experience of Ranatunga and De Silva; after much persuasion and some arm-twisting, both were recalled and Ranatunga was reinstated as captain.
Pakistan had faced similar controversy earlier in the year, centring on the omission of Javed Miandad for the tours of New Zealand and Sharjah and the continuing intrigue over the captaincy. A rebellion against Wasim resulted in his replacement by Malik; meanwhile, Miandad announced his retirement, was persuaded to rescind it by prime minister Benazir Bhutto, scored a hundred in a trial match for the Sri Lankan tour and then withdrew because of a knee injury.
Despite the troubled background on both sides, the tour ended without any official reprimands by the ICC referee, West Indian Cammie Smith, though some thought he had taken a lenient view of several incidents, especially at Kandy.
Salim Malik (Lahore/ Habib Bank) (captain), Asif Mujtaba (Karachi/ PIA) (vice-captain), Aamir Sohail (Lahore/ Habib Bank), Akram Raza (Sargodha/ Habib Bank), Ashfaq Ahmed (Lahore/ PIA), Basit Ali (Karachi/ United Bank), Inzamam-ul-Haq (Multan/ United Bank), Kabir Khan (Peshawar/ HBFC), Mushtaq Ahmed (Multan/ United Bank), Ramiz Raja (Lahore/ Allied Bank), Rashid Latif (Karachi/ United Bank), Saeed Anwar (Karachi/ADBP), Waqar Younis ( Multan/ United Bank), Wasim Akram (Lahore/ PIA), Zahid Fazal (Lahore/ PIA).
Javed Miandad (Karachi/ Habib Bank) withdrew through injury before the start of the tour.
Tour manager: Intikhab Alam.
Test matches - Played 2: Won 2. Cancelled 1.
First-class matches - Played 4: Won 2, Drawn 2. Cancelled 1.
Wins - Sri Lanka (2).
Draws - Sri Lankan Board President's XI (2).
One-day internationals - Played 5: Won 4, Lost 1.
Other non-first-class match - Lost v Sri Lankan Board President's XI.
Match reports for
6th Match: India v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS), Sep 15-16, 1994