Mahela Jayawardene © AFP
Mahela Jayawardene scored a flamboyant 67 in the second ODI © AFP

After fighting back to level the series at Hambantota, hosts Sri Lanka aim to get a series win under their belt after losing to South Africa earlier during the summer at home. Abhijit Banare looks at the likely XI.

Sri Lanka have looked solid in both the One-Day Internationals (ODI) at Hambantota. The stunning partnership between Sohaib Maqsood and Fawad Alam snatched the game away from them. But they didn’t allow any slip-ups in the second match. The Lankan XI has looked settled despite failing to fire effectively. Here’s an analysis and the likely names in the batting and bowling

Batting: Opening combination has been a worry for Lanka. Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan have looked very edgy during their brief stay at the crease. But much of that poor start is made up by the strong middle-order comprising of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews. These top five batsmen are likely to continue for the third match. But relying too much on Mathews and a fluent Jayawardene may not be

The finisher: The problem with Thisara Perera has been consistency. It’s hard on a player to deliver every time when they walk out to bat late in the innings. But that’s what takes players like MS Dhoni a better finisher than others. Perera has an exceptional ability to unsettle the opposition and he once again showed it in the second ODI. But can he deliver when it matters? Perera is a certainty in the XI along with Ashan Priyanjan another player who can give the late boost.

Bowling: This has been a quiet department for the Lankans in the series. However, nothing seems to be wrong in the attack. Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath and Nuwan Kulasekara are bowlers who are Mr Dependables in their own right. For some reason they haven’t been able to strike. But it is unlikely that Mathews will fiddle with the combination that has enough experience to deliver under pressure. Herath, Malinga and Kulasekara will be assisted by more variety in leg-breaks from Seekkuge Prasanna. Moreover, the medium-pace of Perera and Mathews enables Lankans ton consistently keep p the pressure.

Sri Lanka’s likely XI: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawaradene, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Seekuge Prasanna, Ashan Priyanjan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath.

Changes: Unlikely to change their XI given the variety they have

Final take: This seems to be a good combination for Lanka especially where the wickets could be a touch slow. There are two specialist spinners, two pacers and two medium pacers which gives enough options in bowling. The middle-order batting is string which enables them to end on a high though the openers have been misfiring. Pakistan’s bowlers should try and make early inroads in the batting which could very well be the key to a successful outing at Dambulla.

Complete coverage of Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka here

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)