Can Sri Lanka feed on scraps?
Having already lost the five-match series 3-1, Sri Lanka cricketers
will fight to save their blushes at least to win the final game when
they meet Pakistan in the fifth One Day International at the Mahinda
Rajapaksa Stadium in Sooriyawewa in Hambantota today. With the interest
lost in the series, the final ODI will be only of academic interest.
Sri Lanka will have to put a better show in all three departments of
the game to make it 3-2. in the series by winning this last game.
Pakistan has already qualified to play in the ICC Champions Trophy
after their win in Colombo last Wednesday. With a win today, Pakistan
will sweep the series 4-1 and will receive 92 points, which will also
confirm their place as the eighth and final team in the next yearís
Championís Trophy if neither Pakistan nor West Indies play any more
games before the September cut off.
Sri Lanka on the other hand, have nothing to lose on their behalf.
But the final ODI will put a lot of pressure on skipper Angelo Mathews
if Sri Lanka are going for a consolation win. In the meantime, the game
will be the perfect platform for youngsters to tune up for the upcoming
two-match Twenty20 series.
The pitch at Sooriyawewa is not totally bowler-friendly, with a
250-plus score quite a possibility in the short history of the ground.
Sri Lanka scored the fifth highest total (310 for 9) at the ground when
they met Pakistan during their tour last year. During the same tour,
Pakistan chased down a target of 275 to beat Sri Lanka in Sooriyawewa.
The conditions are not so different this time and a similar kind of a
high score can be expected. The batting pitch is likely to turn in
favour of spinners in the latter part of the game and the Lankans will
have to work a bit more on facing the flamboyant Pakistani batting
lineup, but chasing a big total in this stadium is not easy. So the toss
will be a key factor. Pakistanís Azhar Ali was almost unbeatable at
The main reason behind the unsuccessful run of the home team was the
poor performance of their key players. The overall display by the
Lankans during the first four matches were not impressive. Lankan
batting failed in the three lost matches, except for two half tons by
Lahiru Thirimanne and a 65 by Dinesh Chandimal. Lasith Malinga was the
best among Lankan bowlers in the last four matches, but he was only able
to grab four wickets, adding more worries to the Lankan camp.
Disastrous fielding also played a huge role in Sri Lankaís defeats.
Sri Lankan Coach Marvan Atapattu and skipper Angelo Mathews did not hide
their disappointment while talking to the press but both of them are
positive of a victorious comeback at todayís game. Pakistan could heave
a sigh of relief during the series, with Shoaib Malik making a glorious
comeback to international cricket and their new captain Azhar Ali
proving his capability to guide them on the winning path. The new look
Pakistan team which had a disastrous run at this yearís World Cup, have
proved that they have bounced back really well.
All in all, a high scoring game can be predicted with Sri Lanka
exploring every possible way to find the winning ways at the Mahinda
Rajapaksa Stadium this afternoon.
Sri Lanka Team (From)
Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Upul Tharanga,
Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Thisara Perera, Milinda
Siriwardana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan
Pradeep, Ashan Priyanjan, Sachithra Senanayake, Sachith Pathirana.
Pakistan Team (From)
Azhar Ali (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib
Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Anwar Ali, Yasir Shah, Rahat
Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Shafiq, Mukhtar Ahmed, Bilal Asif, Immad Wasim,