DESPERATE Pakistan in need of international cricket and this is a pruned series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and that too arranged in haste. The expression in this case: “Two thirds of an apple is better than no apple,” is very apt.
The reluctance of international teams visiting Pakistan, mainly Australia’s refusal followed by India’s withdrawal after the Mumbai attack left Pakistan in a situation where they can only hope of playing domestic tournaments or inviting Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
Arjuna Ranatunga was bold, loud and clear in making a decision that Sri Lanka will play 3 tests, 5 ODI’s and a T20. But, India came in like a dog in the manger and steal a test match and a couple of ODI’s from the schedule by inviting Sri Lanka to visit India. Much worst was Ranatunga was sacked and the new administration is sold out to India for 10 years for a price tag of 45 million US dollars.
This is the first time in the history of cricket that a cricket board has been sold to another cricket board, this is not the institutionalization of the game but, “prostitutionalization” of cricket at its highest form. In any case the PCB not only wants to make some money from this hasty deal, but they also want to show to the people of Pakistan that the Butt Administration is gyrating and making some moves. The height of desperation can be measured from the way the PCB chief Ijaz Butt went to Karachi Airport to receive the Sri Lankan Cricket Team upon arrival. There is nothing wrong in it, but as a matter of protocol it was not needed.
The back to back ODI’s in Karachi has not created much interest among the general public as they have been very slow in purchasing tickets; either it is due to working days or lack of interest in team selection. It could be both as some of the local boys are not even in the squad of 15 selected. Fawad Alam is the man who is not selected for whatever reasons, although his track record against Sri Lanka is good and he was instrumental in winning one of the ODI’s in which he slammed 3 sixes in a row and made the target look so easy and Malik by virtue of being there like an observer then finally hit the winning shot to get the MoM award.
Sri Lanka are favourites to win this series 3-0 and they have been playing international cricket more than Pakistan and some of their not so famous players have been scoring runs which is a good and ominous sign for them. Their spin bowling deadly duo of Murali and Mendis would be hard for the Pakistanis to play against and not to mention Chaminda Vaas who always plays well against Pakistan. Apart from the Captain and the wicketkeeper, i.e., Jayawardene and Sangakara, the legendary Jayasuriya along with Uppal Tharanga is in the team and their confidence is sky high.
Pakistan included Shoaib Aktar only to create a drama and he may not be able to play because he is and he was never fit to play cricket for the last so many years. The Rawalpindi Express is now being called as the Raw-Bhindi Express because of his fitnress problems and his attitude. If Pakistan can rely on any player at the moment to score runs for them, there is none other than Younis Khan. But, one person alone cannot win 3 matches. Afridi, Malik and Saeed Ajmal are not wicket takers like Murali and Mendis on a consistent basis. Therefore, my prediction is 2-1 in favour of Sri Lanka.
The Karachi pitch is dry and can produce a lot of runs, so whoever wins toss must bat first.