Sri Lankan skipper Angelor Mathews will look to continue his terrific run in 2014 as the captain of the Lankan side with a series win against Pakistan  © AFP
Sri Lankan skipper Angelor Mathews will look to continue his terrific run in 2014 as the captain of the Lankan side with a series win against Pakistan  © AFP

By Rajarshi Majumdar

Aug 29, 2014

Sri Lanka and Pakistan clash in the third and final One-Day International (ODI) at Dambulla on Saturday. The game is set to be the series decider with the both teams winning a game each so far.

The hosts beat Pakistan in the second One-Day International (ODI) by 77 runs at Hambantota.  It looked all bleak for the Lankans when Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan to a commanding position after losing an early wicket.  But  they  pulled  things  back  in  no  time  and  went  on  to  win  the  second  ODI  by  a considerable margin.

The Sri Lankan pacers are not in song at the moment as they were not much of help in this series so far. Lasith  Malinga  looks  wayward  as he has struggled to get his line and length, being  the spearhead of the Lankan pace attack. Nuwan Kulasekara too did not have much of an impact on the Pakistani batsmen either. It was the spinners who did their job for the hosts in the second ODI.

Rangana Herath and Seekkuge Prasanna came in handy with their orthodox spin and took wickets at crucial moments. Sri Lankan openers have left them in a spot of bother as they failed abjectly in the series so far. Their  middle  order  cannot  be  questioned  when  they  have  the  likes  of  the  mighty  trio Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews. If  one fails the other delivers. Mathews and Jayawardene have rescued the Lankan innings twice in this series and they both have been in good form, which can trouble the Pakistanis at any moment in the match Thisara Perera was adjudged the man of the match for the second ODI as he came up with an all-round performance.

Pakistan’s  middle-order  conundrum  continues  to  bother  them  as  they  have  failed  miserably  in both the matches, including their skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq. Umar Akmal, considered to be one of the  natural  stroke-makers  in  the  game, failed  when  he  was  required  to deliver. The run rate is definitely a matter of concern for the Pakistani middle-order. They cannot expect Fawad Alam and Sohaib Maqsood to finish things off in every game. The experienced Younis Khan was not available for the second game as he flew back to Pakistan to attend the funeral of his nephew. Sharjeel Khan stepped in his place and opened the innings along with Shehzad, but failed to leave a mark .

Pakistan  definitely  missed  the  presence  of  their  spin  maestro,  Saeed  Ajmal  in  both  the  ODIs. Misbah, in fact said it in the post-match presentation that they missed Ajmal in the kind of the track they played at Hambantota. The pacers have been patchy. Wahab Riaz has been the pick of their seamers. Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan have struggled to get their basics correct.

Both the teams have enough reinforcements to make it into a classic final. The  fans  can  only  hope  that  rains  will  not  hamper  the  classic  final  between  these  two  Asian cricketing giants.


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.

Time: 04:30 GMT I 10:00 IST

Complete coverage of Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka here

(Rajarshi Majumdar is a reporter at CricketCountry. He played cricket for all age levels under the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) for over 12 years. Apart from cricket he is an avid follower of football, supports Manchester United and a foodie at heart.)