Sri Lanka’s interim coach Rumesh Ratnayake praised Pakistan’s ‘impeccable’ security arrangements for his side’s ODI and T20I tour to the country, held amid safety concerns.
Barring a three-match series against Zimbabwe at home in 2015, Pakistan had not hosted a single ODI series since January 2009, which was incidentally the last time Sri Lanka visited the country for a full tour.
Their current tour also saw the option of a two-Test series pushed back in August, before several regular members of Sri Lanka’s side opted out of visiting the country, citing safety concerns.
Ratnayake, however, insisted that doubts surrounding security preparations had diffused, urging other teams to visit the country and resume bilateral series in Pakistan.
International cricket is back in Pakistan and the fans are loving it! pic.twitter.com/OefWyGgHcU
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 9, 2019
“You’ve done a great job in having us here and the security has been impeccable,” Ratnayake told reporters after Sri Lanka’s 3-0 win in the T20I leg. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it even though some of us came in doubt. But the doubt has been taken out now so I would like to thank you all for making it happen.”
“This tour is a message for the whole world, and especially a message for future Sri Lankans,” he continued. “This has gone very smoothly. Us playing here will encourage so many other countries to also [tour] here.”
He was the fourth-highest runscorer at the 2010 under-19 World Cup and only two batsman have hit more sixes in a first-class innings than him.
This is the story of Sri Lanka's new top-order batsman Bhanuka Rajapaksa's career so far. https://t.co/zRiQHnB6Ej
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 8, 2019
Ratnayake, who represented Sri Lanka in 23 Tests and 70 ODIs, travelled to Pakistan for his final Test tour, in 1992. He said that his latest visit to the country brought back memories of the warm reception teams used to receive in Pakistan during his own playing days.
“The crowd has been the same as 30 years ago; it hasn’t changed. It was very touching when they were holding up signs saying ‘Welcome Sri Lanka’ and it was very moving to see that affection from the people.”
Despite the absence of several prominent players, Sri Lanka completed a 3-0 whitewash in the T20I leg, quickly recovering from the 2-0 loss in the ODI series. Ratnayake believes that the win showed the depth in Sri Lanka’s resources, with fringe players stepping up at the highest level to clinch their first T20I series win against Pakistan.
“It was not the weakest team. We chose the best team. In Sri Lanka we have about 30-40 good players, so whichever we chose we were most confident of. We believed they could do something at the highest level.”