ABU DHABI: Mickey Arthur , Pakistan’s head coach, urged his players to keep their winning momentum intact as they prepare for the third One-Day International against Sri Lanka that will be played on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan has a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, with a convincing 83-run win in the first ODI in Dubai followed by a scrappy, hard-fought 32-run triumph in the second ODI, a result that took the team’s winning sequence to six games.
Arthur, however, felt Pakistan could still do better in its overall performance.
“I was a bit disappointed with the overall performance in the second game,” he said. “I think the partnership between Babar (Azam) and Shadab (Khan) was good, but we lacked a little bit in the intensity in our overall performance. We were still good enough to win which was great.”
Reeling at 101 for 6, Pakistan recovered through a seventh-wicket stand of 109 between Azam and Shadab. Azam hit his second successive hundred, while Shadab hit a career-best 52 not out to lift Pakistan to 219 for 9.
Sri Lankan too recovered from a struggling 93 for 7 with a stand of 76 between Upul Tharanga (112 not out) and Jeffrey Vandersay (22), but in the end it was not enough to avoid a ninth consecutive defeat – the team’s worst losing streak since 1987.
“We bowled well to defend that low total,” said Arthur of his team’s bowling, led by Shadab’s 3 for 47. “I think our bowling was great.”
However, the coach called for no let-up in intensity on the field. “It seemed that we have just taken the foot off the pedal. But the real positive was that the guys fought really well and fought for each other,” held Arthur. “The attitudes have been good and I cannot find fault the commitment and the work ethic of the team.
“I am hoping that we turn it around and put in a really good performance. It’s six in a row for us, which is great and we want to keep building on that and keep this winning record going for as long as we possibly can because this provides stability and provides us the confidence we need going forward.”
Arthur said Pakistan’s standards in the first game were excellent. “Our standards were good and we continued on the road that we wanted to continue on. We batted well, put runs on the board and then attacked with the ball and put them under pressure in the first game.”
The home team is likely to persist with Ahmed Shehzad, the out-of-form opener, for one more game before giving the uncapped Imamzul Haq a go – perhaps after the lead gets unassailable.
On the other side, Sri Lanka needs to overturn the losing habit before the series goes out of its hands.
Tharanga lamented Monday’s loss.
“We were disappointed to lose on Monday,” said he captain, who became the first Sri Lankan and the 11th batsman in ODI history to carry his bat through an innings. “Vandersay batted well too, but when you’re 90 for 7, it’s a tough task. It was good to carry the bat, but I’m disappointed with the result. We need a quick turnaround.”
Sri Lanka may replace Milinda Siriwardana with Chamara Kapugedara in an attempt to bolster the batting, which has not crossed 250 in the team’s last seven games. –ICC