Pakistan on Wednesday defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets in the third and final ODI in Karachi, claiming the series 2-0 (the first match was washed out).
Here are our five takeaways from the series.
Pakistan’s first ODI home series in a while failed to get the hype going.
It may have something to do with scant attendance, mediocre production quality, one-sided matches or maybe even the same old commentary box voices we have been hearing year in, year out. Whatever it is, it is clear that there is something missing.
On TV, Pakistan’s away assignments, especially in England, Australia and South Africa seem enticing and worth taking out time for. Even if the team’s taking a hammering, you do not want to miss the cricketing action as a fan. But come home and everything looks a bit dull and monotonous.
The way cricket is presented locally needs a rethink and revamp.
Bring on the big guns
Sure, we’ve had Zimbabwe, the West Indies, the PSL and now the Lankans playing in Pakistan. But with all due respect, none of these were elite sides even at full strength.
We’re profoundly grateful to all those who've toured, but the next step of bringing cricket home should have our cricket board wooing a true top team that is also not missing any key players.
Let’s bring on Australia or the likes.
Not good enough for World Cup, but still good enough
And now to playing matters: barring the 1st ODI, the series played out as expected. The batsmen generally played well, the bowlers did okay and the fielders only dropped catches they always drop.
The one thing that many did not expect in the script was the strong showing by those who were deemed not good enough to be taken to the World Cup. Abid Ali, Usman Shinwari and Iftikhar Ahmed all impressed, with the former two bagging player-of-the-match awards too.
More of Abid Ali please
Speaking of Abid, his breezy 74 was a joy to watch in the third ODI.
Even when Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq do click, their knocks are not easy on the eyes, primarily because of the former’s awkward technique and the latter not being a natural stroke-maker.
But Abid is all natural. He has his strengths and perfected shots, and if the bowlers don’t respect those, they get punished instantly.
This one should be given more than just a consolation game here and there.
Sarfaraz's promotion up the ranks fails
One of the first major changes Misbahul Haq rang in his debut series as coach was to promote Sarfaraz Ahmed from lower order to middle.
The experiment does not seem to have worked.
The skipper returned scores of 8 and 23 in his twin outings on completely flat tracks. Anyone with limbs and eyes could have averaged 15.5 runs on these surfaces. Better was expected from him.