Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, wanted his team to keep their ruthless approach going in the fourth One-Day International against Sri Lanka on Friday (October 20), despite having taken an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Pakistan thumped a sloppy Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the third match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday on the back of a career-best 5 for 34 by Hasan Ali and a hundred on debut by opener Imam-ul-Haq, thus winning their seventh match in a row.
Sri Lanka, who suffered their tenth successive defeat, were bowled out for 209 in the penultimate over before Imam’s hundred saw Pakistan through in the 43rd over.
Sarfraz termed the ODI series win as a great fightback after losing the preceding two-match Test series 2-0.
“It’s a matter of great happiness that we have won the series 3-0 but I hope that we will play the remaining matches with the same spirit,” said Sarfraz. “It is a good comeback after the Test series loss; we have done well in all departments.”
Pakistan won the first match by 83 runs in Dubai before clinching the second in Abu Dhabi by 32 runs.
Sarfraz praised his young players, led by Hasan. “Both Hasan and Shadab Khan (the legspinner) are going well and improving day by day. They are learning from their mistakes and it’s a welcome sign that they are improving. Babar Azam is doing well, so it’s great to have them (the young guns) in the side.”
He singled out Imam as one for the future. “I am happy for Imam, it was his first match and he scored a hundred which is great,” said Sarfraz. “I pray that he keeps doing well and wins us matches with his performances.”
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella(wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedara, Thisara Perera, Seekuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay.
Pakistan are likely to test their bench strength in the remaining matches with Usman Shinwari, another left-arm fast bowler, in the fray.
Nic Pothas, the Sri Lanka coach, wanted his team to stem the rot. “I’d just like to see a bit more fight,” said Pothas. “I am not seeing that character coming out at the moment and I hope we do it sooner than later.”
Sri Lanka lost their first-ever series against Zimbabwe 2-3 in July before going down 0-5 to India in August-September. They are due to tour India next month.
“We can have so many meetings and that many practices, but once you cross that line, you need to show a little bit of fight,” added Pothas. “It’s a tough situation. I agree that we have been there. We have seen the same thing happening over and over again, and something needs to change soon.”
Sri Lanka have only Seekkuge Prassana, the leg-spinning allrounder, left on the bench and may bring him in place of the struggling Milinda Siriwardana.