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
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
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.