Preview: Sri Lanka-Pakistan encounter should provide spark to the World Cup

Shahid Afridi-led Pakistan would be counting on their batting to fire against Sri Lanka

By Suneer Chowdhary


By Suneer Chowdhary
Colombo: February 26, 2011
At the time of writing, the closest a game in this tournament that came to being an exciting one was the one between Netherlands and England. ‘Damp squibs’ is probably one way to describe the remaining ones, making the Pakistan-Sri Lanka encounter, one that the fans will look to give the tournament some spark.
The reasons are aplenty. For one, the sudden turnaround by Pakistan after 2010 had given them much grief on and off the field. Then again, the feeling is that unlike the previous season, the middle-order is the backbone of their batting, thanks mainly due to the re-rise of Misbah-ul-Haq, the batsman.
And thirdly, and most pertinently from this game’s perspective, they will be one of the few teams to possess the ammunition to challenge the Sri Lankan side. The pace bowling may lack the incision of Wahab Riaz, but it is consistent, while the spin-department is well-endowed. Man-to-man, it makes for an interesting battle.
Pakistan’s last game against them had resulted in a thrilling win for Sri Lanka, despite Shahid Afridi’s century. Lasith Malinga got a five-for in that game. Afridi will be bubbling with confidence for this game and it is a combination of his team’s recent wins and his own form against Kenya, where he scalped a five-wicket haul. Before the start of the World Cup, while he would end up with a wicket or so almost every innings, he ended up conceding more runs than he would have liked.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have gone about their business in workman-like manner. The crux of their batting is their top four, and at home, it is usually difficult to dislodge them. While the spinners may not trouble them as much some other team, the battle between Tillakaratne Dilshan or Upul Tharanga against the Pakistani pacemen will be one to watch out for. If Dilshan can get his bearings right – and he has shown to bat in a much more matured manner these days – then one can expect the shots to go more speedily to its destination than when bowled by the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and his ilk.
Where the think-tank will need to do some thinking is if Malinga retains his fitness for this game. The buzz is that Kumar Sangakkara was disgruntled on hearing that Malinga had injured himself and as a precaution, kept him out of the previous game. Against Pakistan, Sangakkara will look to turn to him which means that one of Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera or a batsman will need to be sacrificed. While Thilan Samaraweera and Dilshan did try to fulfil the quota for the fifth bowler, the sense is the Kapugedra may have to make way to accommodate Malinga – especially if Matthews would not be able to bowl.
 Pakistan (Probable): Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah ul Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar
Sri Lanka (Probable): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Matthews, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Muthiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekera.
Umpires: Ian Gould, Daryl Harper
Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT)
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

Colombo: Feb 25, 2011


At the time of writing, the closest a game in this tournament that came to being an exciting one was the one between Netherlands and England. ‘Damp squibs’ is probably one way to describe the remaining ones, making the Pakistan-Sri Lanka encounter, one that the fans will look to give the tournament some spark.

 

The reasons are aplenty. For one, the sudden turnaround by Pakistan after 2010 had given them much grief on and off the field. Then again, the feeling is that unlike the previous season, the middle-order is the backbone of their batting, thanks mainly due to the re-rise of Misbah-ul-Haq, the batsman.

 

And thirdly, and most pertinently from this game’s perspective, they will be one of the few teams to possess the ammunition to challenge the Sri Lankan side. The pace bowling may lack the incision of Wahab Riaz, but it is consistent, while the spin-department is well-endowed. Man-to-man, it makes for an interesting battle.

 

Pakistan’s last game against them had resulted in a thrilling win for Sri Lanka, despite Shahid Afridi’s century. Lasith Malinga got a five-for in that game. Afridi will be bubbling with confidence for this game and it is a combination of his team’s recent wins and his own form against Kenya, where he scalped a five-wicket haul.

 

Before the start of the World Cup, while he would end up with a wicket or so almost every innings, he ended up conceding more runs than he would have liked.Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have gone about their business in workman-like manner.

 

The crux of their batting is their top four, and at home, it is usually difficult to dislodge them. While the spinners may not trouble them as much some other team, the battle between Tillakaratne Dilshan or Upul Tharanga against the Pakistani pacemen will be one to watch out for.

 

If Dilshan can get his bearings right – and he has shown to bat in a much more matured manner these days – then one can expect the shots to go more speedily to its destination than when bowled by the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and his ilk.Where the think-tank will need to do some thinking is if Malinga retains his fitness for this game.

 

The buzz is that Kumar Sangakkara was disgruntled on hearing that Malinga had injured himself and as a precaution, kept him out of the previous game. Against Pakistan, Sangakkara will look to turn to him which means that one of Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera or a batsman will need to be sacrificed.

 

While Thilan Samaraweera and Dilshan did try to fulfil the quota for the fifth bowler, the sense is the Kapugedra may have to make way to accommodate Malinga – especially if Matthews would not be able to bowl. 

 

Teams


Pakistan (Probable): Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah ul Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar

 

Sri Lanka (Probable): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Matthews, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Muthiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekera.

 

Umpires: Ian Gould (England) and Daryl Harper (Australia).

 

Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT)

 

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

 


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