Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 1st ODI at Hambantota: Wounded Pakistan eye redemption against formidable hosts
Sri Lanka are going through one of best phases in their cricketeing history © IANS
Aug 22, 2014
As the dust settles in on the carnival-like farewell that Sri Lankan batting legend Mahela Jayawardene got from his teammates and countrymen alike, Pakistan, thirsty for victories under the new regime, plot a comeback.
Pakistan surrendered rather tamely in both Tests and were understandably roasted by the sword-wielding media back home. One of the primary concerns for this team, which is undergoing a transitional phase is the alarming lack of runs in the top order. The other obvious reason being the constant chopping and changing of personnel in the board and backroom staff. Pace Legend Waqar Younis is left to pick up the pieces and the team will undergo a few hiccups on its way.
The Pakistan One-Day International (ODI) outfit, however is a far more balanced and settled outfit. A middle order with Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Hafeez, Fawad Alam and Younis Khan and Umar Akmal has everything going for it — a rare blend of youth, experience, power and finesse. This should be Pakistan’s biggest strength going into the series. Hafeez returns to the side after a successful Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign. The former Pakistani T20 skipper was in scintillating form the last time these two met. Playing in their adopted home in the UAE, Pakistan won that series 3-2 but Sri Lanka had the last laugh few months down the line when they beat the visitors in the Asia Cup final.
Sri Lanka are going through one of the best phases in their cricketing history. Angelo Mathews has been on the forefront of it all and so has Kumar Sangakkara. The return of Lasith Malinga will definetely make the hosts more formidable and the Pakistanis have struggled a bit in the recent past against the Lankan speed gun. After floating in dreamland with an Asia Cup, World T20 and ODI and Test wins in England, Sri Lanka were humbled by South Africa in the Tests and ODIs.
The crushing Test wins shows that the Lankans mean business and have more one-day specialists than their opponents. Sachitra Senanayake‘s ban means Rangana Herath can feature more prominently in the shorter formats for the Island Nation. These two teams play a lot of cricket against each other and the first ODI at the Mahinda Rajapaksa stadium in coastal town Hambantota is expected to be a run feast. Nearly 600 runs were scored in the last ODI that was played here.
Time: 10:00 local| 10:00 IST
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Ashan Priyanjan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Seekuge Prasanna, Suraj Randiv, Thisara Perera.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad,Sharjeel Khan,Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (C),Younis Khan, Umar Akmal,Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Saeed Ajmal ,Mohammad Talha, Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Irfan
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)