Shaky Sri Lanka seek parity and progress

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Oct
1

Big Picture

It wasn’t as embarrassing as it could have been. At 28 for 5, Sri Lanka were in danger of being crushed by more than 200 runs in the second ODI. Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka dragged Sri Lanka almost back into the game, but the result, in the end, was a comfortable victory for Pakistan.

This is the shape many Sri Lanka matches have taken in the past two years. There have been moments of fight. But they have surrendered too much ground in the remainder of the game for those small passages of brilliance to matter. There is a semblance of respectability to many performances. But victories remain elusive.

With Babar Azam having shown his form has not taken a hit since the end of the World Cup, and even Fakhar Zaman beginning to look ominous, Pakistan are well-placed to keep the pressure on their weakened opposition. Shadab Khan was slightly expensive on Monday, but with the fast bowlers all producing tight spells right through the game, the hosts have no major problems on the bowling front either.

ALSO READ – Rasool: Babar is among the best in the world, but does Pakistan know that?

Form guide

Pakistan WWWWW (completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LWWWL

In the spotlight

Usman Shinwari did not feature in the World Cup, but made a big statement on Monday – his 5 for 51 by far the best figures in the match. With Hasan Ali going through a rough patch, and Junaid Khan also out of favour with the selectors, another good performance on Wednesday could help Shinwari make himself part of Pakistan’s go-to ODI trio, alongside Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.

Wanindu Hasaranga took only two wickets in the second ODI, but finds himself in a similar position to Shinwari. Akila Dananjaya – who had been Sri Lanka’s top spin option is now suspended for a year, over his action. Sri Lanka are desperately looking for a penetrative limited-overs spinner – one who could play a role in next year’s T20 World Cup – and increasingly, Hasaranga fits the bill. It doesn’t hurt that he is also a good batsman, but for now, it is with the ball that he most needs to excel to cement a place.

Team news

Lahiru Kumara was expensive and wayward on Monday, and could be replaced by Kasun Rajitha. There isalso a chance Angelo Perera could come into the top order.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Lahiru Thirimanne (capt.), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), 5 Oshada Fernando, 6 Shehan Jayasuriya, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Isuru Udana, 9 Wanindu Hasaranga, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Nuwan Pradeep

Imam-ul-Haq hurt the webbing in his hand while fielding in the second ODI and spent most of the second innings off the field. If he’s ruled out of the third match, Abid Ali will likely replace him.Pakistan (possible): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Haris Sohail, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt. wk), 6 Asif Ali, 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Shadab Khan, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Usman Shinwari

Pitch and conditions

A fresh pitch will be provided for the third ODI. Expect a similar surface – one that is reasonably good for batting for 80 overs or so, and takes a little spin, before slowing down towards the end of the game. There’s only a small chance of rain.

Stats and trivia

  • Babar Azam has been dismissed for less than 60 in only one of his last five innings against Sri Lanka. He has three hundreds in that sequence.

  • Babar’s also among five batsmen to have scored over 1000 ODI runs this calendar year. Among those batsmen, only Virat Kohli (64.40) has a higher 2019 average than Babar’s 62.41.

  • Pakistan have now won their seven most-recent (completed) matches against Sri Lanka – a streak that goes back to 2017.

  • Shehan Jayasuriya’s 96 was not only by far his highest ODI score, it was actually Sri Lanka’s seventh-highest individual score in the last 12 months.

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