By Soham Sarkhel and Jatin Thakkar.
Scorecard links: 1st Test, 2nd Test, 3rd Test
Even though Pakistan put up a much better display on offer than their ODI outings against Sri Lanka earlier in the tour, their performances in the end proved to be too individualistic against a tightly knit Sri Lankan unit. The series victory brought Sri Lanka’s first Test series win after a span of almost 3 years while it also brought Pakistan’s unbeaten 7-series streak to a halt.
Here is an overview of the series through the Impact Index lens.
Only players who played 2 or more matches in the series considered in this table.
The man of the series award went to Kumar Sangakarra (4.72) mainly for his batting dominance throughout the series but even though he was the highest impact batsman of the series, the overall highest impact player of the series was Rangana Herath (5.03). Herath was the main deciding factor in the first Test and took 3-30 off 21 overs in the first innings to skittle out Pakistan for a meagre 100 on a flat track before coming back in the second innings to take out Pakistan’s two highest impact batsmen of the series (Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq). Along with the performance being a series-defining one, Herath also emerged as the highest impact bowler of the series.
Sangakkara (4.72) was the highest impact batsman of the series by a good margin. His highest impact batting performance came in the first Test (which was also a series-deciding one) where he scored an unbeaten 199 in the first innings to push Sri Lanka to a dominating total of 472 which eventually resulted in a win for his team (the only match in the series that had a result). Sangakarra registered an impact on all the batting parameters in the series and again proved his class and value in the international arena.
Thisara Perera was the only player in the series who managed to give an all-round performance in the series (Batting IMPACT 1.74, Bowling IMPACT 2.80). Perera took 4-88 in the third test match before chipping in with a crucial 75 which helped Sri Lanka snatch the lead. However, his name does not feature on the list as he played just one match in the entire series.
Nuwan Kulasekara (3.71) was the 3rd highest impact bowler in the series (behind Herath and Ajmal) despite having taken only 8 wickets. Conventionally speaking both Junaid Khan (14) and Suraj Randiv (10) picked up more wickets than him but Kulasekara registered a higher impact because of his performance in the first Test which turned out to be a series-defining one.
Asad Shafiq (2.32) was the highest impact batsman for Pakistan in the series despite having scored fewer runs than Azhar Ali (1.58). He registered a higher impact primarily due to the fact that a lot of his runs came while absorbing pressure —exemplified by him having the highest Pressure IMPACT amongst all the batsmen in the series. In fact, his performance in the 3rd Test was the highest impact batting performance in the series. He faced considerable pressure in both the innings (75 and 100 not out) and shepherded Pakistan from imminent defeat.
Saeed Ajmal (3.58) was the highest impact bowler for the Pakistanis in the series and even though he was ably supported by Junaid Khan (3.46) and Abdur Rehman (2.23) throughout the series, they just couldn’t match up to the Sri Lankan batting might. Ajmal’s performance in the first Test where he took 5-144 and 2-47 in the first and the second innings respectively was the only one which registered a bowling impact of more than 5 in the entire series.
One of the biggest gains for Pakistan from this tour has to be the performance of their young left-arm pace bowler Junaid Khan (3.46). He closely followed Ajmal to be Pakistan’s 2nd highest impact bowler in the series and more importantly gave solid performances on tracks which were not conducive for pace bowling. His brilliance can also be gauged from the fact that he displayed his abilities on all the respective bowling parameters, namely—Wickets Tally IMPACT, Partnership Breaking IMPACT, Pressure Building IMPACT, Economy IMPACT and Efficiency IMPACT.
Only 6 bowlers (out of 14) in the entire series managed to have a Series Bowling IMPACT of more than 1—a pointer to the unfavourable conditions meted out to them.
Overall, the TEAM IMPACT of both Pakistan (1.53) and Sri Lanka (1.61) suggests that the series was very closely fought over the course of the three Test matches.
Despite leading all the individual charts, namely-- highest Match IMPACT performance (Saeed Ajmal), highest Bowling IMPACT performance (Saeed Ajmal) and the highest Batting IMPACT performance (Asad Shafiq), Pakistan were unable to push for a result in any of the three matches. Even while trailing 0-1 in the third test match, Pakistan showed a defensive approach while fielding in the final session before both the teams mutually called off the match even though there was a high possibility of a result being on offer. Such defensive tactics must be condemned if we are to have any hopes of salvaging the dwindling popularity of test matches.
For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com