One hopes for clearer skies in this game as the hosts Sri Lanka take on visitors Pakistan in the penultimate game of the five-match ODI series on Saturday, 16 June at Colombo. The premature abandonment of the previous game dampened the spirits of everyone by ensuring the series stayed level at 1-1. The momentum though appears to be running the way of the home side since their drubbing in the first game as they romped home in the second and had the Pakistani batsmen right where they wanted them in the third before rain ended the contest. The visitors will be keen to stop the dominance of the Lankans in this one and gain some confidence before the test series.
The Lankan batsmen did not have a chance to showcase their abilities in the previous game. Though they failed miserably in the first game, they came back strongly in the second and put up a competitive total. Tillakaratne Dilshan has been their best batsmen with an unbeaten century under his belt. He has amassed 124 runs so far with Mahela Jayawardene a distant second with 56 runs. Though the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga have had two chances to bat, they haven’t crossed even the 50 run mark and will look to improve upon that stat in this game.
The bowlers have been excellent with Thisara Perera having claimed a career best 6 wickets in game 2, while Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga have been consistent with both line and length and have been rewarded with 4 wickets each. Each of the bowlers have maintained an economy of around 4 and the Pakistani batsmen have struggled to score runs at a quick pace. Angelo Mathews hasn’t picked up a wicket yet in the series but has been applying pressure on the batsmen. Sajeeva Weerakoon is yet to bowl a ball and it’ll be interesting to see how he gels with the other bowlers in this game.
The visitors have struggled with their batting on this tour. There is nothing worth mentioning apart from the 96 by opener Azhar Ali in a losing cause in the second game. Despite that knock, he has only managed a tally of 106 which has been the best by any Pakistani batsman. Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez had a couple of starts but failed to convert them and yet have been their next best batsmen and like their Lankan counterparts have just crossed 50 odd runs for the series. Pakistan went in with an extra batsman in the previous game and that could be their best hope of scoring some runs.
Though the Pakistan bowling is strong on paper, they had an off-day in the second game but it didn’t stop the Pakistan think-tank from dropping a specialist bowler in favor of an extra batsman in the third game. Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul have been their best bowlers with 3 wickets each with remarkable economy rates of less than 3. Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal have been decent and each of them has a wicket to their credit. These five bowlers should be able to do the job for Pakistan in this game.
Sri Lanka (W L L)
June 09 2012-vs Pakistan- won by 76 runs
June 07 2012-vs Pakistan- lost by 6 wickets
March 20 2012-vs Bangladesh- lost by 5 wickets
Pakistan (L W W)
June 09 2012-vs Sri Lanka- lost by 76 runs
June 07 2012-vs Sri Lanka- won by 6 wickets
March 22 2012-vs Bangladesh- won by 2 runs
(Their most recent meeting on June 13 2012 was abandoned due to rain)
Pakistan: M Hafeez, A Ali, Y Khan, A Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq(c), U Akmal, S Afridi, S Ahmed (wk), U Gul, S Ajmal, S Tanvir
Sri Lanka: M Jayawardene(c), T Dilshan, K Sangakkara (wk), D Chandimal, L Thirimanne, U Tharanga, A Mathews, T Perera, N Kulasekara, L Malinga, S Weerakoon
Players to Watch
Lasith Malinga: He can get the better of any batsmen at any part of the innings with those slow bouncers and toe-crushing yorkers apart from his many other variations. Enough said.
Mohammad Hafeez: He has set very high standards for himself in the recent past and will look to bounce back in this game after a couple of bad games. His batting and bowling can rock the Lankans.
Pitch: The pitch was recently re-laid and anything above 250 should be a good total. Going by the previous game, scoring runs will not be very easy considering the heavy outfield and the batsmen will need to apply themselves.
Prediction: With the Lankans performing exceedingly well with both bat and ball, it’s hard to look beyond a Sri Lankan victory. The hosts will win the game to go 2-1 up in the series.Comments: