Senior players failed to take responsibility. The bowlers were impatient in the second innings. And Sri Lanka gave up a good match position too readily.
These were Dimuth Karunaratne’s verdicts following Sri Lanka’s 263-run defeat in Karachi. The visitors had had a first-innings lead of 80, but allowed openers Abid Ali and Shan Masood to put on a mammoth 278-run stand, Pakistan then going on to post 555 for 3 in the second innings. Karunaratne said Sri Lanka’s major failing had been with the new ball. Pakistan scored at a run rate of 4.15 for the first 13 overs of their innings.
“In the second innings we gave away something like 50  runs in the first 12 overs,” Karunaratne said. “In that period they got momentum and they just kept batting. When you play Tests you have to keep the pressure on the batsmen and wait for mistakes. But we kept giving runs away. There were boundaries almost every over. That’s why we are the losing team.
“We were trying too many things with the ball. That’s why we gave so many runs in that critical period. We were trying to defend, but our bowlers have to be a bit more patient when they play Tests.”
Set a target of 476 for victory, Sri Lanka slid to 97 for 5 on day four, with senior batsmen Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis all failing to make as many as 20. Oshada Fernando, playing his fourth Test, was the only batsman to make a century in the second innings.after four Pakistan batsmen had reached triple figures earlier in the game.
“In other series seniors did well, but here, we seniors need to take the blame,” Karunaratne said. “As a captain I need to take the blame as well – I couldn’t do anything major in this series either. Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, and Kusal Mendis weren’t able to do much. They are all experienced players.
“In the second innings when we went out to bat, we were under a lot of pressure. We weren’t able to attack the way we wanted to, and their bowling plans were very good. Their lines and lengths were good and they bowled to their fields. They also had pace, and they got the most out of that. But we can’t give excuses as batsmen that they bowled well or the wicket helped them. We need to work out how to play in all sorts of conditions. We didn’t play well in partnerships. We didn’t put up big stands. A lot of us got starts but didn’t convert that into a big score.”
The series was an especial disappointment for Mendis, who did not make a significant score across three innings, after having had a modest series against New Zealand in August as well. He was caught in the slips in each of his innings in Pakistan.
“Kusal is a good player with a good technique, but he does go through periods where he suddenly dips in form,” Karunaratne said. “And then suddenly he plays well again.
“The coaches and batting analysts have a responsibility to find out why that happens, but so does he, because he knows his mindset. Playing one series well and one series badly is tough on your team. If in one team there are two batsmen who fail, that’s a big disadvantage in Test cricket. He needs to go to Sri Lanka and work with coaches and batting analysts. There’s also the high performance centre. He needs to work out his weaknesses, because we saw in this series that he gets out the same way.”