Misbah ul Haq will be quite keen to win the ODI series © Getty Images
Sri Lanka and Pakistan clash in a crucial series-decider in Dambulla on Saturday. As both the sides have shown in the first two games their ability to win matches, Devarchit Varma lists down the key clashes in the series-decider which will make this clash a riveting contest.
Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka 2014 has so far garnered a lot of interest among the fans, despite the home side thrashing the rusty tourists in a compelling manner in the two-match Test series. Pakistan then bounced back in the first One-Day International to trump Sri Lanka, but failed to keep up the wining momentum as the home side leveled the three-match ODI series with a big win in the second ODI.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq rued the absence of his star spinner Saeed Ajmal in the second ODI, wherein they failed to contain the Sri Lankan batsmen. Ajmal had travelled to Australia to get his bowling action examined and till the results are declared, the champion off-spinner can continue playing international cricket. Ajmal has joined the Pakistan camp and his return will not only bolster the tourists’ firepower, but will also spice up the contest with him taking on Sri Lankan run-machines in Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at some promising key clashes in Sri Lanka-Pakistan third ODI:
Upul Tharanga versus Wahab Riaz: The left-arm pacer has snaffled the Sri Lankan Southpaw in both matches, providing Pakistan early wickets so far in the series. Tharanga might be low on confidence after two poor outings, and on the other hand Wahab will be riding high on confidence after bagging seven wickets in just two matches. The Sri Lankan opener will have to be cautious in the third and final outing.
Angelo Mathews versus Saeed Ajmal: The star Pakistan spinner is back in the series and is a surety to feature in the final match of the series. Mathews has been Sri Lanka’s top run-scorer in both matches with 89 and 93. He is someone around whom Sri Lanka can build an innings, and the right-handed batsmen can accelerate when needed. With Ajmal back in contention, Pakistan will hope that he is able to make a mark in this game.
Mahela Jayawardene versus Saeed Ajmal: With two half-centuries in as many matches, Jayawardene has been a pillar of strength for Sri Lanka. He was involved in two crucial partnerships with Mathews at the top, which helped Sri Lanka to recover on both the occasions after the top-order was blown away. Ajmal will look to break this norm and keep his side in a commanding position.
Thisara Perera versus Wahab Riaz: The star Sri Lankan all-rounder has been able to make a mark in both the games. He can score quick runs towards the fag end of an innings which can really hurt the opposition. Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker in the series, Wahab, will be aiming to not allow Perera to score as freely as he did in second ODI.
Ahmed Shehzad versus Lasith Malinga: The Pakistan opener is in a good form at the moment, and Sri Lanka will hope that their strike bowler s able to contain the right-handed batsmen in this match. Shehzad scored a half-century and 39 in the two matches and provided his side strong starts on both the occasions.
Mohammad Hafeez versus Rangana Herath: The senior Pakistan batsman scored a fine half-century in the second ODI and will be looking to keep the momentum going. However, Herath could be the man responsible from Sri Lanka’s side to contain him, as on his day the left-arm spinner can create angles to stifle the right-handed batsmen.
Fawad Alam versus Rangana Herath: Alam has been a revelation for Pakistan in this series. He has the ability to score runs on both sides of the wicket and win matches for Pakistan batting way down in the lower-order. He has contributed in both the matches so far in the series and Sri Lanka will need their ace spinner to contain the dangerous-looking Alam.
Complete coverage of Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka here
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)