ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq termed the one-day victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka as ‘special wins’ which meant his team ended a tough year on a high.
Pakistan beat South Africa 2-1 last month — their first-ever one-day series win over the Proteas — before clinching the Sri Lanka series 3-2 on Friday.
Even though Pakistan lost the fifth and final match by two wickets in Abu Dhabi, Misbah said the series win was satisfying.
“I think it was a tough year for us but the two series we won in South Africa and now against Sri Lanka, they are very special and ended our year on a high note,” Misbah said after Friday’s game.
The win over Sri Lanka was Pakistan’s seventh one-day series win this year — their best-ever in a calendar year — which also included a 2-1 victory against arch-rivals India in January.
Misbah hoped the one-day series win over Sri Lanka would lift his team’s morale ahead of the three-Test series starting in Abu Dhabi from Tuesday.
“We did struggle in the middle of the year,” said Misbah of Pakistan’s loss in the ICC Champions Trophy in June in England. “We have to improve our fielding because we had Friday’s match in our hands but we let it go because of poor fielding.”Misbah hit a solid 51 to end the year with 1373 runs in 34 one-days — the highest by any player in 2013 — to lead Pakistan to 232 all out.
Sri Lanka sneaked through in the final over with Dinesh Chandimal guiding them home.
It was Chandimal’s first half century in 11 months. He scored his last ODI fifty against Australia in January, made a composed unbeaten 64 off 70 balls with just one four and a six as he put on a match-winning 40-run stand with No 10 batsman Ajantha Mendis (19 not out) to guide his team to 235-8 in 49.4 overs.
“I’m over the moon,” Man-of-the-Match Chandimal said. “Credit goes to Mendis at the end to help us get through as sometimes I was a bit nervous.”
Sri Lanka looked to have spoiled a perfect start of 75 runs by their openers Kusal Perera (47) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (45) when they limped to 195-8 in the 46h over. Chandimal and Mendis swung the game in Sri Lanka’s favour when they hit a six each off Umar Gul’s 49th over before Mendis, playing his first match of the series, hit the winning boundary off Anwar Ali over extra cover to finish off the game.
Perera hit three fours and four sixes in a blistering start to Sri Lanka run-chase before he was out plumb leg before wicket while trying reverse sweep off Mohammad Hafeez.
Dilshan became the sixth Sri Lankan batsman to complete 8,000 runs in One-day Internationals when he reached 31 but top edged a pull shot off Junaid Khan (3-31), who also uprooted Kumar Sangakkara’s leg stump (22).
Pakistan spinners choked the middle and lower order with some superb tidy bowling by Saeed Ajmal (2-43) and a miserly bowled 10-over spell of Abdur Rehman (0-38) as they lost last three wickets in space of six runs before Chandimal and Malinga got them through.
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews showed disappointment over the series loss.
“We were good enough to get over it but I think we were nowhere near our brand of cricket and disappointed that we lost the series,” said Mathews, describing defeat in the first match as the turning point.
“If you look at the series, the first game was very crucial, we lost that by 11 runs and had we won that game we would have been sitting 3-2 winners,” said Mathews of the match in Sharjah.
Sri Lanka levelled the series in Dubai with a two-wicket win before Pakistan won the third and fourth matches to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead.
Mathews said his team will be more competitive in Tests with experienced batsman Mahela Jayawardene and ace spinner Rangana Herath joining the squad.
“We played without Herath and Jayawardene in the one-days but they will back for the Tests and so we will be at our full strength and we will be more competitive,” said Mathews.—Agencies
Sharjeel Khan c and b Malinga 18
Ahmed Shehzad c Priyanjan b Lakmal 17
Mohammad Hafeez b Mathews 41
Sohaib Maqsood c Dilshan b Malinga 7
Misbah-ul-Haq c Sangakkara b Malinga 51
Umar Akmal c Dilshan b Mendis 20
Anwar Ali not out 41
Abdur Rehman lbw b Malinga 1
Umar Gul run out 8
Saeed Ajmal lbw b Lakmal 8
Junaid Khan lbw b Lakmal 0
EXTRAS (LB-10, W-10) 20
TOTAL (all out, 49.3 overs) 232
FALL OF WKTS: 1-30, 2-54, 3-70, 4-128, 5-169, 6-173, 7-176, 8-194, 9-232.
BOWLING: Mathews 10-1-26-1 (1w); Lakmal 7.3-0-42-3; Senanayake 10-1-44-0 (3w); Malinga 10-0-57-4 (2w); Mendis 10-1-42-1 (3w); Dilshan 2-0-11-0 (1w).
M.D.K.J. Perera lbw b Hafeez 47
T.M. Dilshan c Saeed b Junaid 45
K.C. Sangakkara b Junaid 22
L.D. Chandimal not out 64
S.M.A. Priyanjan c Umar Akmal b Umar Gul 1
A.D. Mathews c Umar Akmal b Anwar 8
K.D.K. Vithanage b Saeed 14
S.M.S.M. Senanayake c Hafeez b Junaid 3
S.L. Malinga b Saeed 0
B.A.W. Mendis not out 19
EXTRAS (LB-7, W-5) 12
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 49.4 overs) 235
FALL OF WKTS: 1-75, 2-113, 3-129, 4-137, 5-166, 6-189, 7-194, 8-195.
DID NOT BAT: R.A.S. Lakmal.
BOWLING: Umar Gul 7.5-0-44-1 (1w); Anwar Ali 5.4-0-36-1 (1w); Mohammad Hafeez 9-0-36-1 (2w); Junaid Khan 7.1-0-31-3; Saeed Ajmal 10-0-43-2; Abdul Rehman 10-0-38-0 (1w).
RESULT: Sri Lanka won by two wickets; Pakistan win 3-2.
UMPIRES: Shozab Raza (Pakistan) and J.D. Cloete (South Africa).
TV UMPIRE: R.K. Illingworth (England).
MATCH REFEREE: J. Srinath (India).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Dinesh Chandimal.
MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Mohammad Hafeez.