12th March 2000
Well done old Boy!
FROM: Samiul Hasan in Karachi
The invincibles have toured Pakistan for a three-Test series. But they never came as close as Sri Lanka who sense an opportunity to get their name recorded in history books with a golden pen.
The under-rated but immensely talented and disciplined cricketers from the pearl island have a life-time opportunity to become the first team ever to white-wash Pakistan in Pakistan by winning the Test at the National Stadium where the home team has never lost in 33 matches.
Mark Taylor's Australians were the only ones who came close to winning here six years ago. But a defiant last-wicket stand of 57 between Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmad snatched a one-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Sri Lankans have done almost everything to perfection on this tour. They have batted with admirable concentration and application, bowled according to a plan and within their limitations, fielded with zeal and capitalized most of the chances.
What is even more enterprising in this squad is skipper Sanath Jayasuriya's manners, decency and total command that has made him a popular player in the team dressing room and amongst the followers of the game and mediamen. Then there is no element of complacency in his words and he is always urging that his team can do even better.
"Winning or losing doesn't matter to me until we are playing good competitive cricket," he said yesterday.
Pakistan, once an unbeaten proposition at home, on the contrary, have played one of the worst cricket of their distinguished career. The players look clueless and the administration in all sorts of chaotic condition.
To rub salt into wound, injuries have done no good to the spirits and morale of the Pakistanis. Probably the present day demand of round the clock cricket has taken a toll on the fitness-void ageing cricketers.
Wasim Akram broke down after bowling just 13 balls in the first Test and Saqlain Mushtaq joined him on the casualty list when he was hospitalized for dehydration and stomach complications. Moin Khan added the injury list when he had to be left out of the Peshawar Test because of knee injury and on the second morning, Waqar Younis didn't take the field because of a stiff back. Saeed Anwar's horrifying collision with umpire Nazir Junior was the final nail in the Pakistan coffin.
Anwar, nursing a badly bruised nose and a sprained neck, is a doubtful starter for the final test for which the Pakistan cricket selectors have recalled Ijaz Ahmad and Mushtaq Ahmad alongside fitness regained Akram and Moin Khan in an effort to restore battered pride and earn some consolation.
I believe this is the best group of cricketers that has assembled for the first time in the series. The middle-order has been bolstered with the inclusion of Ijaz and the bowling has found the punch and variety in the presence of Akram and Mushtaq supported by the true pace of Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
But what is mindboggling is if Ijaz and Mustaq had to be recalled, why they were sidelined in the first place? The cricket board has no guts to admit that their incompetence and short-sighted approach brought Pakistan cricket on the edge of a deep grave. Instead coach Intikhab Alam was made a scape-goat and pushed to a limit where he resigned before schedule.
For the first time in the series, the Pakistan cricket administration used their brains rather than listening to the heart and prepared a hard and green top wicket for the Karachi Test. The wicket prepared definitely suits Pakistan which has always relied heavily on its fast bowlers. But the tragedy is the batsmen have always discouraged preparation of such strips because of their vulnerability against bounce and seam movement.
But after having played in Australia, the batsmen shouldn't worry about the bounce and seam movement. Besides, the series has already been lost and there shouldn't be a pressure that the rubber was on line. However, Sri Lankan stroke-makers may feel uncomfortable having played on slow turning tracks at home (against Australia), against Zimbabwe (in Zimbabwe) and then in the first two Tests in Pakistan.
On this track, Chaminda Vaas, Pramodiya Wickremasinghe and Ravindra Pushpakumara can certainly leave Pakistan batsmen guessing, the home side will have an equal chance to decimate the Sri Lankan top order provided the fielders don't show greasy palms.
On this track, Muttiah Muralitharan may not be as effective as Mushtaq Ahmad who needs bounce and a quicker track to make his conventional leg-spin and googlie work. But Muralitharan is a bowler who can even spin the ball yards in a swimming pool or on desert sand.
Pakistan's biggest concern in this Test will be to put a decent first innings score. They capsized in both the first innings and the second innings because of some spineless batting and can't afford another horrendous performance this time.
Skipper Saeed Anwar, who has shown a chicken heart and defensive approach, tends to be a little more attacking, and batting first on a green top wicket will not be a bad idea. Many wouldn't agree arguing that the captain winning the toss should field first to give his bowlers an opportunity to extract initial advantage from the wicket. That ploy may work for Sri Lanka but Pakistan have always excelled when they have batted first with no pressure on them.
"I prefer to bat first because then I play carefree strokes. But the decisions to bat or field are always made after consulting senior players and team management," Anwar said without hinting what he would do this time if he wins yet another toss.
I may be jumping on the guns too early, but I strongly feel Pakistan will win this Test. It is not that Sri Lanka can't match Pakistan on a green top wicket, but because the home team may have picked the right players by bolstering its middle-order and frontline bowlers with specialists and experienced players.
The next five days should witness exciting cricket which, irrespective of poor performance by Pakistan, has been played throughout this series.
Bernie Wijesekera reporting from Pakistan
KARACHI. THE new look Sri Lanka cricket team who has already wrapped up the Test series by winning the first two Tests, play their final Test here today at the Karachi National Stadium.
If the team gives a repeat performance, they will be creating cricket history under Sanath Jayasuriya, for the first time in the annals of Sri Lanka cricket winning the one-dayers and the Tests 3-nil away from home.
It was a tremendous effort by the team to create an unblemished record on this tour. Jayasuriya speaking to the Sunday Times said, "Though we beat the Pakistanis, they are a force to be reckoned with. True we won, but there was tremendous excitement to the finish".
Jayasuriya said it was a peaceful annihilation, sans temper tantrums. "All credit should go to the players. They worked hard on and off the field with a united effort. In the end my vision to achieve my mission has become a reality, as everyone contributed."
By Marlon Fernandopulle
A sparkling century from opener Dhanushka Perera declaration by Royal skipper Ruchira Jayasuriya paved the way for an exciting draw to the 121st 'Battle of the Blues' at Maitland Place yesterday.
After the first two days produced a drab affair with a slow over rate and a cautious approach by the batsmen of both teams, yesterday's action provided the ideal entertainment for the big match revellers of both schools with over 400 runs being scored.
S. Thomas' declared at their overnight score of 256/8 conceding a 27 run first innings lead. Royal openers Dhanushka Perera and Kanishka Edirisuriya set the tone for the day when they scored freely in the morning session.
The pair added 164 runs in equal time, surpassing the record for the first wicket set by Thomians N. Scheffer(54) and W Jayatileke (72) in 1936.
Edirisuriya departed for 59 while left-hander Perera completed a classic century before he was out for 116. The opener faced 163 balls and thumped 14 boundaries.
The Royalists continued in the same vein and went into tea at 237/3 in only 49 overs.With Royal having a lead of 263 and just 51 overs remaining a declaration was on the cards, but the Reid Avenue school opted to face another seven balls after tea before declaring and setting the Thomians 269 to win in 46 overs.
The Thomians made a cautious start but took up the challenge as they went for the runs. However the fall of wickets at crucial stages got the Thomian camp thinking, time and again, on their run chase.
They lost their second wicket at 53 in the 12th over but increased their acceleration with their third wicket pair of skipper Gehan Fernando (31) and Z. Kanaka (46). who added 45 runs before Kanaka was stumped for a well compiled 46 in only 55 balls.
Skipper Fernando was then joined by Meshad Peiris and the pair added 34 runs before the skipper was caught by his opposite number for 31. Peiris took over the challenge and batted aggressively hitting a six and five fours in a breezy 35 before he ran himself out. With the fifth wicket down at 143 the Thomians put up shutters prompting the umpires to call off the game with 8 mandatory overs remaining.
Royal 1 st innings 282/9 decl.(Ruchira Jayasuriya 45 Andrew Perera 64 Aruna Bandaranayake 3/62 Lakmal Fernando 2/25)
S'Thomas first innings 256/8 decl(Jewan Mendis 67 Dilshan Gunawardene 73 n o Sampath Edirimuni 2/49)
Royal second innings
D Perera ct M Peiris b Bandaranayake 116
K Edirisuriya b L Fernando 59
M Thotuwilage not out 27
J Mubarak ct D Gunawardene b L Fernando 17
R Jayasuriya ct Gunawardene b Bandaranayake 7
Extras(b-2,lb-7 nb-5 w-2) 16
Total(for 4 wickets in 50.1 overs) 242
Fall of wickets:1-164,2-198,3-228,4-242
Bowling:L Fernand012-1-35-2 G Fernando-4-1-11-0 A Bandaranayake 10.1-0-29-2 D Nanayakkara 1-0-13-0 D Gunawardene 12-0-72-0 P Peiris 2-0-15-0 L Wickremasinghe 9-0-58-0
S Thomas second innings
A Rajawasam ct & b Edirimuni 17
P Peiris st A Perera b G Ratnayake 18
Z Kanaka st A Perera b G Ratnayake 46
G Fernando ct Jayasuriya b Edirimuni 31
M Peiris run out 35
L Fernando lbw H Rajakaruna 1
D Gunawardene not out 18
J Mendis not out 00
Extras (nb-2,w-2lb-1) 4
Total(for 6 wickets in 38.4 overs) 170
Fall of wickets :1-30,2-53,3-98,4-132,5-143,6-170
Bowling:S Edirimuni 10-1-45-2 A Kariyakarawana 5-1-19-0 D Perera 2-0-17-0 G Ratnayake 8.4-0-41-2 R Jayasuriya 3-0-12-0 H Rajakaruna 9-1-28-1
The Sri Lanka cycling team currently in Pakistan to take part in the 10th International Tour De Pakistan has annexed the Team Championship of the Tour in Karachi.
The Sri Lanka cycling team comprised B.J. Sumanasekera (Captain), H.L.Krishantha, P. Yasarathna, C.P.Meemanage and Rohan Chaminda Seneviratne. Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva is the Manager and the coaches are Anthony Symons and Upali Ratnayake.
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