Skipper Dinesh Chandimal praised the fighting spirit and ability to learn from mistakes which lifted his players to a series whitewash over Pakistan in Dubai on Tuesday.
Barely two months ago the Sri Lankan team was routed 3-0 at home by world number one Test team India, but Chandimal said his players and management switched gears both on and off the field.
“We are over the moon,” said Chandimal who won his first series as captain. “Those were tough times for everyone but we learn a lot of things from that India series as a team and as individuals.”
“The main thing is our attitude and it makes lot of difference so everyone put their heart and soul in the practices, so when they come to the match they did well.”
Pakistan were in with a chance of an upset victory when they resumed at 198-5 with Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed knitting a fighting sixth wicket stand, needing a further 119 runs.
But off-spinner Dilruwan Perera broke the 173-run stand by dismissing Ahmed for 68 while Shafiq fell for 112, ending Pakistan’s innings at 248 for a 68-run victory.
The defeat is Pakistan’s first in ten series in United Arab Emirates, their adopted home since 2009 terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team, which suspended international cricket back home.
The defeat allowed Sri Lanka to replace Pakistan at number six in Test rankings, pushing their opponents to seventh.
Perera finished with 5-98, his fifth five wicket haul, a performance Chandimal said was also praiseworthy.
“We knew Dilruwan was struggling in the Indian series. He did not take any wickets so before we came here we spoke to him and gave him confidence and he was successful,” said Chandimal.
Sri Lanka scored 482 in their first innings on the back of a career best 196 by opener Dimuth Karunaratne before dismissing Pakistan for 262, gaining a crucial 220-run lead.
They were then dismissed for 96 in their second innings, but Chandimal believed a target of 317 was always a winning one.
Pakistan captain Ahmed accepted his team was below par in the series.
“I think we did not play goog cricket,” said Ahmed, captaining for the first time in Tests. “Sri Lanka played much better cricket than us and we were let down by batting because we didn’t play big innings and that is what cost us.”
Ahmed said there were lessons in defeats.
“I got to learn a lot as captain,” said Ahmed. “We made many mistakes in the series but this was my first series as captain and it was pretty tough and will allow us to learn.”
Pakistan captain justified the decision of not playing with two spinners in the series.
“You could say we should have played with two spinners here but the bigger problems we got was of batting. You could say we’ve played and won with two spinners here before, but at the moment, we felt our fast bowling was more experienced.”
Pakistan and Sri Lanka now play a five-match one-day series, the first in Dubai on Friday. They also play three Twenty20 internationals, two in Abu Dhabi and the last in Lahore.