Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 26 July 2015





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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 previous occasions.

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, Ehsan Adil



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