DUBAI // Marvan Atapattu, the Sri Lanka batting coach, yesterday called the Pakistan team one of their best in the recent past and likened Misbah-ul-Haq to Arjuna Ranatunga, to his country's former captain.
Atapattu's praise came after Sri Lanka were thrashed by eight wickets in the first one-day international in Dubai on Friday to go 1-0 down in the five-match series, which followed Pakistan's 1-0 win in the three-Test series.
"They looked very fresh from the start and they are a very good side, having lots of all-rounders and have options," Atapattu said. "This Pakistan side is one of the best I have seen in the recent past having played against their best teams in my days."
Atapattu, a former opening batsman who played 90 Tests and 268 one-day internationals, was full of praise for Misbah, the Pakistan captain.
"Misbah is a very cool and calm character and what I saw in the Tests was very impressive, he handles things well and is somewhat like Ranatunga. He has the patience to wait until he achieves what he wants to," Atapattu said of the 37 year old.
Misbah, who was appointed Test captain in October last year - two months after the spot-fixing scandal in England - has not lost a Test series since and is uniting a team known for their erratic ways.
The Pakistan captain has credited team spirit, strength in depth and experience for his side's 13-match unbeaten run in all forms of cricket.
That run includes 11 wins, against the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and now Sri Lanka, the latest of them by eight wickets at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday, in the first ODI of a five-match series.
"The key to our success is that nobody's disappointed [if they are not playing]," Misbah said. "Sometimes I'm disappointed to just drop some of the players because they are all so good and they all deserve to be in the eleven, so that really is a strength for our team.
"The players we have here, all 16 that we have, we can put anybody in and that's the beauty of our team now."
The experience in Pakistan's squad has also been key, Misbah said. "You need experience in all situations in life because when there is pressure then it's experience that counts," he said.
"That's a good sign for me that I've got experienced guys in the team and they're really doing very well, especially Younis Khan, who's always contributing to the team, now Shahid Afridi's come in and performed very well and Abdul Razzaq also bowled very well [on Friday]."
Meanwhile, Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said his team had been underperforming recently. The Sri Lankans managed just 131 off 40.3 overs in Friday's defeat, a total Pakistan chases down with 28.1 overs to spare.
"We're preparing well and gel together well as a team but we have to do it in the middle," he said. "When we cross the line we have to play 100 per cent our brand of cricket and now it's time for us to put up a better show.
"We're grooming young players but it's up to everyone, not just the young players, to put their hands up, including myself and all the batting unit. We have to put our hands up and do a job.
"The last three or four series, we haven't started well. Now we have another four chances [to put things right] in this series. We have to come stronger and play better cricket."