Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 19 July 2015





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Pakistan survive at Sri Lanka’s mercy

Hopes of an animated contest with both teams under high pressure is on the cards when Sri Lanka take on Pakistan in the third one-day International, a day-night affair at the R.Premadasa Stadium, Khettarama today.

Pakistan won the first game in Dambulla which was a day game and Sri Lanka won the second at Pallekele in a day-night contest.

The challenge is to the personal prestige of the two captains Angelo Mathews and Azhar Ali and to the honour of their teams. It is a bigger challenge staring straight at Pakistan for the simple reason that they have to win the match and the series to qualify to the first eight to play in the 2017 Champions Trophy to be staged in England.

Pakistan has played in all Champions Trophy tournaments since its inception in 1998, but is yet to win the trophy although they have made it to the semi-finals in 2000, 2004and 2009. Pakistan has to win to find a place in the first eight teams. They will have to oust the West Indies who are in the eight position.

In the game at Pallekele although Sri Lanka won a thrilling contest, their fielding was atrocious as they lacked the basic kindergarten stuff, like calling for a catch and running between the wickets. On the other hand the Pakistan fielding has improved tremendously and it could be a definite plus factor for them.

Sri Lanka will very likely stick to their winning combination. Debutant Sachith Pathirana although expensive while bowling his left arm spinners gave a gutsy display while batting. His 33 runs in the company of Dinesh Chandimal proved to be a very useful one and with the other left hander Milinda Siriwardene’s 25 playing in his second ODI scored under tremendous pressure took the Sri Lankans closer to victory.

Another electrifying start by Kusal Perera like the other day could put the Sri Lankans in an advantageous position.

The aggressors role was done to perfection by Perera with seasoned TM Dilshan playing second fiddle.

Upul Tharanga, Mathews and Thirimanne need to bat with more responsibility if Sri Lanka is to reach a menacing score to put pressure on the Pakistanis. For Pakistan, skipper Azhar Ali, Shoib Malik, and all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez have been among the runs. However, Pakistan will miss the services of Mohammed Hafeez as a bowler as he has been banned for one year by the ICC sighting his bowling action as not in conformity with the norms of the laws of cricket.

Ahmed Shehzad has been somewhat disappointing from the Pakistan point of view.

Pakistan’s attack will be spearheaded by left arm six -sooter Mohammed Irfan. Yasir Shah who gave a fine performance in the Test series has been unable to make much of an impact in the ODIs which may be a bother for the visitors.

Hopefully the Khettarama pitch should provide some assistance to the spinners of either side. Besides Mohammed Irfan, Pakistan is well equipped with two other seamers in Rahat Ali and Anwar Ali.

ICC ODI Championship team rankings

1. Australia (129 points), 2. India (115), 3. New Zealand (112), 4. South Africa (109), 5. Sri Lanka (105) 6. England (980),7. Bangladesh (96), 8.West Indies (88), 9. Pakistan (88), 10. Ireland (50), 11. Zimbabwe (43), Afghanistan (40)


Sri Lanka from: Angelo Mathews(Captain), Dinesh Chandimal, (WK), Tillekaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne, Milinda Siriwardene, Ashan Priyanjan, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Sachith Pathirana, Sachitra Senanayake, Seekuge Prasanna.

Pakistan from: Azhar Ali (Captain), Mukhtar Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammed Hafeez, Azad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Rizwan, Barbar Azam, Sarfraz Ahamed (WK), Yasir Shah, Bilal Asif, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammed Irfan, Eshan Adil, Rahat Ali.


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