By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Pakistan’s one-day skipper Azhar Ali disclosed that they exploited the inexperience of the Sri Lankan team to win the one-day international series at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the fourth ODI to take a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
“In the first half the wicket was playing very well and there wasn’t much for the bowlers the main thing is we kept to our plans,” said Azhar at the post-match press conference.
“Knowing the wicket is good we kept coming at the batsmen and we tried to keep them quite as much as we can. We knew if we get wickets they lack a little bit of experience in matches and they don’t have in-form batsmen.
“We just kept on bowling in the right areas and contained them as much as we can and kept waiting for the wickets to come. It did come when we got 2-3 wickets and we knew we can get them to about 250-260,” he said.
Azhar said that a target of 256 was attainable but still had to play well to get it.
“They had a few bowlers who can get wickets we knew that if we start well it will get easier as the game goes on,” said Azhar.
“We had a very good opening partnership Ahmed Shehzad played exceptionally well. He played positive and put the bad ball away. (Mohammad) Hafeez played a crucial knock at a time they were putting a lot of pressure on us. He played like a senior player would play. We had another good partnership with more than a hundred and it made our win easy.
“It’s always pleasing when all the batsmen are scoring runs and are in good form. Everybody knows their roles how to go about their game. As a captain you wish that it continues hopefully. We’ll keep working hard and try improving our game. Once you have confidence like that you can have leverage to score quicker and you can play fluently and take a few risks as well,” he said.
Azhar said the series win over Sri Lanka meant a lot to the team.
“Winning in Sri Lanka is not easy. On their home soil, they are a very good side and they play really well. We haven’t won an ODI series here for the last nine years so we wanted to win badly. The boys responded brilliantly. From our point we’ve done really well. We are very happy to have achieved it.”
Although the series has been won Azhar said that Pakistan still need to win the fifth and final ODI on Sunday at Hambantota as well to qualify for the Champions trophy.
“The next game is very important for us as well we need to get more points before the next tournament. The Champions trophy qualification is such that we want to come out in full strength and win that as well.”