Handling pressure the key as Sri Lanka edge Pakistan

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: ODI Series Review


By Soham Sarkhel and Jatin Thakkar

Scorecards: 1st ODI | 2nd ODI | 3rd ODI Abandoned | 4th ODI | 5th ODI


Given the run of form both these teams had coming into this bilateral one-day series, few would have expected Sri Lanka to come out triumphant, that too convincingly (3-1) against a Pakistani side which has won five out of the six ODI series in the post-World Cup period compared to Sri Lanka's last ODI series victory which came way back in 2010. Pakistan had their share of performers in Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq in this series, but their performances were way too inconsistent in front of a Sri Lankan team which had glimpses of both individual (NLTC Perera, KC Sangakkara) as well as team brilliance.

Thisara Perera finally lived up to his billing as a genuine all-rounder and provided two brilliant individual performances for his team in the second and the fourth ODI for which he got the Man of the Series award. However on the IMPACT chart, both Kumar Sangakkara and Mohammad Hafeez were ahead of him in terms of the overall Series IMPACT.

Here is an overview of the one day series through the prism of Impact Index.


Observations:

Even though Thisara Perera was instrumental in Sri Lanka's victory in the second and the fourth ODI, his Series IMPACT of 3.11 was lower than Mohammad Hafeez's Series IMPACT of 3.20. This was primarily because Mohammad Hafeez was unbelievably consistent in his performances (failure rate of 0%). His all round impact in the first ODI where he scored 37 runs and took 2 for 20 off 10 overs (Match IMPACT 8.03) was the main reason behind Pakistan's solitary win in the one day series. In fact, Mohammad Hafeez is the third-highest impact player for Pakistan in their ODI history (after Imran Khan and Shahid Afridi).

Interestingly, Perera (Bowling IMPACT 2.61) was not even the best bowler in this series; Mohammad Hafeez (Bowling IMPACT 2.64) again beats him to that. According to conventional statistics though Perera's bowling average of 16 with 11 wickets was far better than Hafeez's tally of 6 and an average of 20.

They were the only two players in this series to have registered an all round impact (Both Batting and Bowling IMPACT over 1).

Kumar Sangakkara had the third highest Batting IMPACT (2.23) in this series and his knock of 97 runs in the fourth ODI gave Sri Lanka a crucial 2-1 lead in the series. Along with being the batting power house for his team, his wicket-keeping skills gave him 10 scalps (Wicket Keeping IMPACT) as a result of which his Series IMPACT also increased to 3.15.

For Pakistan, the find of this series was Azhar Ali who was also the highest impact batsman (2.63) followed by Misbah-ul-Haq (2.29) and Kumar Sangakkara (2.23). Azhar Ali was consistent in his batting performances throughout the series and failed only once during the first ODI (which interestingly Pakistan won). Although he was criticised for being over cautious in his approach (negative Strike Rate IMPACT), it is interesting to note that all  the top three batsmen for this series registered a negative Strike Rate IMPACT in this series which of course maybe a pointer to the slow surfaces on offer at Sri Lanka.

The highest impact batting performance in the series came from Angelo Mathews (80 not out off 76 balls) in the fifth ODI which sealed the series in Sri Lanka's favour. According to conventional statistics, Angelo Mathews' strike rate of 97.82 in this series was the highest (higher than Akmal's 76). However on Impact numbers, Umar Akmal has a higher Strike Rate IMPACT (0.22) than Angelo Mathews (0.17) which is primarily because of Akmal's unbeaten knock in the first ODI (36 runs off 48 balls) in a tricky chase on a pitch which was not conducive for run scoring.

The highest impact bowling performance in the series came from Thisara Perera in the 2nd ODI for his career best performance of 6 for 44 in 10 overs which sparked a Pakistani collapse.

Pakistan's failure in the series can also be attributed to the below par performances of their strike bowlers Saeed Ajmal (Bowling IMPACT 1.26) and Umar Gul (Bowling IMPACT 1.41) whose career impact numbers are higher than their performances in this series. Although Umar Gul was brilliant in the first ODI (Bowling IMPACT 4.74), he was lacklustre in the rest of the series. His career Bowling IMPACT of 1.51 overshadows his series Bowling IMPACT of 1.41. The same applies for Saeed Ajmal as well whose career Bowling IMPACT of 2.07 is way higher than his series Bowling IMPACT of 1.26.

Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Sami were good in patches and had Series IMPACT numbers of 1.87 and 2.15 respectively; however, the latter was guilty of being too expensive in the last match (Negative Economy Rate IMPACT) which eventually cost them the series.

There were six bowlers who showed an ability of breaking partnerships while bowling (Partnership Breaking IMPACT) - namely Mohammad Sami, Shahid Afridi, Rangana Herath, Saeed Ajmal, Lasith Malinga and Sohail Tanvir. Interestingly, there are four Pakistani bowlers in this list compared to only two from the Sri Lankan side. When it comes to Pressure Building IMPACT, it is almost the same story again; amongst the five bowlers who were successful in building pressure (taking quick wickets to put the opposition under pressure) four were from Pakistan (Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir) while only one bowler in the form of Thisara Perera represented Sri Lanka.

Pakistan's bowling unit has performed strongly for them most of the time but it has been their batting efforts which have let them down time and time again. Their defeat in the fourth ODI was their 15th in 18 matches while chasing scores in excess of 240 which is well brought out when we go through the Pressure IMPACT numbers (batsmen who were successful in absorbing pressure). Out of the eight batsmen who were successful in absorbing pressure, six were from Sri Lanka, namely Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Denesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, whereas only two batsmen in the form of Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez represented Pakistan.

Overall, the top performances in the series on a match level (batting and bowling) came from the Sri Lankans whereas the highest impact batsman, bowler and player in the series were Pakistanis. In terms of all-round players also, the honours were even with one player from each team successfully filling in the all-rounder's slot and gives one a feeling that the series was hard fought, which is actually true. Pakistan lost from a winning position in the fourth ODI and suffered a collapse of 7 wickets for 13 runs which cost them the match. In the fifth ODI again, a brilliant innings from Angelo Mathews which culminated in a last over finish ended their chances of equalling the series. The series could very easily have gone either way.

Sri Lanka's Team IMPACT in the series (1.78) was ahead of Pakistan's (1.65). The Sri Lankan Team Batting IMPACT (1.66) and Bowling IMPACT (1.73) in the series was also better than that of Pakistan (1.61 and 1.55) which clearly shows that the former were the better side in the recently concluded series.

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