ISLAMABAD - Umar Gul made the difference, as Pakistan thrashed Sri Lanka in the third One-day International by 113 runs.

The victory target could have been much higher had Misbah used his brain and made timely decisions. What was the purpose of holding premier bowler Umar Gul’s over, when Sri Lankan main batsmen were already gone back to pavilion, Misbah should have brought Umar much earlier to wrap up the Lankan tail, but he is a very defensive-minded skipper and he proved it once again.

Pakistan bowling was looking completely off color for the last many months in the absence of Umar Gul and the team was finding it really difficult to contain opponents even after scoring 300 plus runs, but as soon as the PCB top brass woke up and decided to send Umar Gul to UAE, the problem was sorted out within no time.

Misbah and the team management can’t blame batsmen now for not posting decent totals, as for the past three matches, the batsmen had scored loads of runs, but it was the bowling and fielding which were letting green shirts down.

Pakistan batting once again hammered all the Lankan bowlers at will. Sharjeel Khan once again just threw his wicket away cheaply for the second match in the progress. It was not exceptional bowling but poor technique, which is letting Sharjeel down, who is without a shadow of doubt a great potential and can hit all the world’s best bowlers at will. But he has to improve his technique and patience and must understand a simple fact that he can’t hit every ball out of the park, as long as he stays at the crease, runs will start to come thick and fast.

Ahmed Shahzad and Hafeez batted sensibly and put on the match-winning second-wicket stand of 160 runs, which laid the foundation of huge total on the board. Pakistan once again fell short of posting at least 15 more runs on the board, as middle of the innings runs were dried.

Sohaib Maqsood, despite taking good start, failed to fulfill his potential and gifted away his wicket. Umar Akmal is not getting enough deliveries to bat and showing his extraordinary talent. Umpiring was questionable especially by Shozab Raza, who let Lankan bowlers away with wide deliveries and gave Umar Akmal out, despite the ball had clearly came off the bat. He must not oblige opponents, but try to give fair verdicts.

Pakistan catching was also very ordinary as two back-to-back simple catches were dropped. Ground fielding was also very poor and ball was going between the legs of fielders. After a very long time, Sri Lankan fielding was very ordinary. Malinga’s costly error gave Hafeez a very charm life which he dully obliged and posted a superb unbeaten ton, which was also the highest individual total scored by any Pakistani against Sri Lankans.

The way Umar Gul bowled was exceptional keeping in mind he was returning to international cricket after a long gap due to injury, but he showed his class by spearheading the bowling attack. It was his superb bowling, which helped other bowlers as well, and the same Lankan batsmen, who had scored loads of runs, were finding it really difficult to even get singles, rather than even thinking about lusty blows.

Pakistan team still needs Anwar Ali in the tail to give much-needed boost, as he is no mug with the bat and also can bowl few overs. Bilawal Bhatti is clearly off-color and he is nowhere near to what was seen from him against much-strong South African side. Bilawal needs a break, which will help him regain his form or he will continue to get punish from even tail-enders. Pakistan now has upper hand and they must not relax and continue to play attacking and aggressive cricket, as Sri Lankans are known to bounce back. Any casual approach by the green shirts can spoil their hard work and deprive them of series. Misbah must adopt an attacking approach and should take timely decisions and rotate his bowlers according to situation, rather than waiting for things to happen.