Preview: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan promises to be a weekend cracker

Sri Lanka would be boosted by the inclusion of ace pacer Lasith Malinga for their second World Cup match against Pakistan at Colombo on Saturday

By Jamie Alter

Colombo: Feb 25, 2011 
 
Enough with the formalities. Sri Lanka and Pakistan hardly broke a sweat in dispatching weak opponents this past week, and can now readily set themselves to do battle against each other in what promises to be a weekend cracker. Both sides boast good bowling sides and flashy batsmen. Sparks have often flown when Sri Lanka have played Pakistan, and in the cauldron of a World Cup match on Sri Lankan soil, expect nothing less than a wired match.
 
The batting of both sides did well against the Associates they began their campaigns against. For Sri Lanka, Tillakaratne Dilshan scratched together 50, Kumar Sangakkara stroked 97, and Mahela Jayawardene caressed a fine century. Thereafter the middle order was shaky, especially during the final ten overs, and that’s an area where Pakistan will just have to be clinical. Sri Lanka’s middle order does not pack a lot of punch, the major blot in what is otherwise a very efficient team tipped for greatness in 2011.
Against Kenya, Pakistan’s openers flopped but four half-centuries in a row set up a huge total; Misbah-ul-Haq’s 65 was his ninth international fifty in 12 innings across Tests and ODIs. This is a general comment on the way Pakistan’s batting has panned out over the past year (on 13 occasions they have crossed the 250-mark).
 
Therein lies the contest of the match, as a good, old-fashioned and healthy one-day match should be – of ball against bat. For Sri Lanka, there is the canny medium-pace of Nuwan Kulasekara, the subtly deceptive efficiency of Thisara Perera, the wiles of Ajantha Mendis and the mastery of Muttiah Muralitharan. It was odd that Sri Lanka benched Lasith Malinga against Canada, and there is a strong case for his inclusion against Pakistan.
On the other side, there are Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul . Abdur Razzaq is the weak link in the attack but knowing his destructiveness at No 8, Pakistan won’t discard him easily. Two spinners played the match against Kenya, so it’s unlikely Pakistan will break up that combo. If they do, it will be Abdur Rehman to make way for Wahab Riaz’s pace.
These are all speculative permutations. What is certain though, is that two exciting and explosive sides will give fans their money’s worth, and we possibly have the first cracker of the World Cup in store.
Teams
Sri Lanka (probable): Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis/Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan.
Pakistan (probable): Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wk),  Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi (capt), Abdul Razzaq,  Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar.
Umpires: Tony Hill (New Zealand) and Ian Gould (England).
Time: 014.30 local (09.00 GMT)
(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)
Pictures © Getty Images


Colombo: Feb 25, 2011 

Enough with the formalities. Sri Lanka and Pakistan hardly broke a sweat in dispatching weak opponents this past week, and can now readily set themselves to do battle against each other in what promises to be a weekend cracker. Both sides boast good bowling sides and flashy batsmen. Sparks have often flown when Sri Lanka have played Pakistan, and in the cauldron of a World Cup match on Sri Lankan soil, expect nothing less than a wired match.

The batting of both sides did well against the Associates they began their campaigns against. For Sri Lanka, Tillakaratne Dilshan scratched together 50, Kumar Sangakkara stroked 97, and Mahela Jayawardene caressed a fine century. Thereafter the middle order was shaky, especially during the final ten overs, and that’s an area where Pakistan will just have to be clinical. Sri Lanka’s middle order does not pack a lot of punch, the major blot in what is otherwise a very efficient team tipped for greatness in 2011.

Against Kenya, Pakistan’s openers flopped but four half-centuries in a row set up a huge total; Misbah-ul-Haq’s 65 was his ninth international fifty in 12 innings across Tests and ODIs. This is a general comment on the way Pakistan’s batting has panned out over the past year (on 13 occasions they have crossed the 250-mark).

Therein lies the contest of the match, as a good, old-fashioned and healthy one-day match should be – of ball against bat. For Sri Lanka, there is the canny medium-pace of Nuwan Kulasekara, the subtly deceptive efficiency of Thisara Perera, the wiles of Ajantha Mendis and the mastery of Muttiah Muralitharan. It was odd that Sri Lanka benched Lasith Malinga against Canada, and there is a strong case for his inclusion against Pakistan.

On the other side, there are Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul . Abdur Razzaq is the weak link in the attack but knowing his destructiveness at No 8, Pakistan won’t discard him easily. Two spinners played the match against Kenya, so it’s unlikely Pakistan will break up that combo. If they do, it will be Abdur Rehman to make way for Wahab Riaz’s pace.

These are all speculative permutations. What is certain though, is that two exciting and explosive sides will give fans their money’s worth, and we possibly have the first cracker of the World Cup in store.

Teams


Sri Lanka (probable): Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis/Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan.

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

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

Time: 14.30 local (09.00 GMT)

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)

Pictures © Getty Images