Pakistan have done well to get up 2-0, but the coach wants the team to be even more intense. © Getty Images

Pakistan have done well to get up 2-0, but the coach wants the team to be even more intense. © Getty Images

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 (October 18) in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan have a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, with a convincing 83-run win in the first ODI in Dubai followed by a scrappily hard-fought 32-run triumph in the second ODI, a result that took their winning sequence to six games.

Arthur, however, felt Pakistan’s overall performance wasn’t up to the mark.

“I was a bit disappointed with the overall performance in the second game,” Arthur told Wisden India. “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 – their worst losing streak since 1987.

Sri Lanka will have to pull up their socks quickly in a bid to keep the series alive. © Getty Images

Sri Lanka will have to pull up their socks quickly in a bid to keep the series alive. © Getty Images

“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 but I was disappointed with our standard of fielding last night.”

Pakistan dropped as many as five catches, with Tharanga getting three lives.

“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 are likely to persist with Ahmed Shehzad, the out-of-form opener, for one more game before giving the uncapped Imam-ul-Haq a go – perhaps after the lead gets unassailable.

On the contrary, Sri Lanka need to overturn the losing habit they seem unable to shake off before the series goes out of their 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 their last seven games.