Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup 2016, Mirpur March 3, 2016

SL, Pakistan look to mend batting chinks in dead rubber


Match facts

March 4, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1330 GMT)

Mohammad Amir's form in the tournament has been one of the few positives for Pakistan © AFP

Big Picture

With tails between their legs, two of the better nations in T20 history prepare to play out a dead rubber, two years after they had contested the final of this tournament. Their routes to this match were similar enough. Both teams had more trouble defeating the UAE than expected. They were each floored by a clinical Bangladesh side, and were comfortably bested by India, despite a few heartening performances in those games.

They are also ailed by roughly similar concerns. The openers are a worry for Pakistan - none having hit more than 11 in the tournament. Sri Lanka have begun to fear that Tillakaratne Dilshan's form may not recover over the next few weeks, and his partner - Dinesh Chandimal - is an improvised opener in any case. Pakistan have a few bright sparks in that top order - which features Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik - but against the top teams, they have only come good one-by-one, rather than as a collective.

In Mohammad Amir at least, this game will feature the bowler that has delivered the best spells in the tournament. In Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka have the most experienced attack. Both teams will look to their bowlers to set the standard, as the batsmen attempt to sort themselves out.

Form guide

Pakistan: LWLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: LLWLL

Watch out for

Nuwan Kulasekara has had an up-and-down tournament, having made key breakthroughs against India and UAE, though he proved expensive against Bangladesh. He has said goodbye to his inswing over the past year. This is like if Coke stopped making its cola. Kulasekara has found the means to make profits off his supplementary products though, finding outside edges with the ball that straightens on the deck, and bowling cheap overs at the death. If he can take early wickets again in this match, he will go into the World T20 with some confidence, inswing or not.

With team-mates sinking around him, Sarfraz Ahmed tried to salvage something out of Pakistan's innings against Bangladesh, on Wednesday. Batting unusually high in the order, Sarfraz scored 58 not out off 42 balls. Though coaches have not always been willing to let Sarfraz come in early, his limited-overs statistics do suggest he is of more use to Pakistan in the top five, than lower down. As Pakistan attempt to lock down their batting roles for the World T20, another success higher in the order might guarantee Sarfraz a place there.

Teams news

Coach Waqar Younis said Pakistan were likely to test their bench strength in this match. Allrounder Imad Wasim and bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Nawaz have a chance of playing. There is a chance Shahid Afridi could be rested.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Khurram Manzoor, 3 Sharjeel Khan, 4 Sarfraz Ahmed, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Imad Wasim/ Shahid Afridi (capt.), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Mohammad Nawaz, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Mohammad Irfan

Sri Lanka know what they will get from Rangana Herath, so they may take the chance to give legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay a run. As this match is a dead rubber, they are unlikely to risk Lasith Malinga's knee.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dinesh Chandimal, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Shehan Jayasuriya, 4 Chamara Kapugedara, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Milinda Siriwardana, 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Rangana Herath/Jeffrey Vandersay, 11 Dushmantha Chameera

Pitch and conditions

The weather is expected to be good for this match and, given the teams, another low-scoring game is on the cards.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka lost 0-2 to Pakistan in the teams' most recent T20 series, in Sri Lanka last year.
  • Sarfraz Ahmed averages 59 when batting in the top five, from five innings there so far. His overall average is 29 after 11 innings.


"If you are 34 for 4 after ten overs, you can't win a match. Our bowling has bailed us out on a few occasions, but if we bat like this, we can't win. Both our openers are making comebacks, so they are under pressure, and the pitches have been tough. If we had adapted well to these conditions, it would have been good, because the pitches in India should be better for batsmen."

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood talks through some of Pakistan's batting woes.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sacred.soul on March 4, 2016, 14:30 GMT

    SL has a very good start today but why didnot they pick Kusal perera-the lefty opener? He could have been devastating in this condition. Jeevan Mendis is too a very good allrounder and I think deserves a place in this squad.

  • geeya on March 4, 2016, 13:27 GMT

    Dhanushka, jeevan mendis, kusal, Munaweera want to back to the side. And ODI team needed tharanga, eranga immedietly

  • Keyboard_Coach on March 4, 2016, 13:25 GMT

    Its a shame for asian cricket that even bangladesh is looking stronger than pakistan and sri lanka..asian cricket is going throug a rough time...hope everything gets back to its place as soon as possible..

  •   Masood Ahmad on March 4, 2016, 13:23 GMT

    I didn't expect Aamir to be this good in such a short period of time upon his return. He has pleasantly surprised me, and it looks as if he is the best bowler Pakistan has at the moment. If keeps on like this, he will become world's number 1 pretty soon. It would be exciting to see him bowling on England's pitches this summer !!!

  • Shanim Nizar on March 4, 2016, 13:07 GMT

    Afridi should open today. He was at his best with the bat when he was an opener. lets try that position again as there is nothing to loose

  • SS2S on March 4, 2016, 12:58 GMT

    I think we need to get kithruwan vithanage to open the innings ( first to the t20 squad). He opened in england and did well there. Even though his attitude is not the best but he got better technique than chandi and dhanushka to open the innings

  • NipunShrestha on March 4, 2016, 12:49 GMT

    Srilanka can never win T20 World cup with this squad. Malinga cannot play in more than 1 game and then he will be injuired. Kulesekhara doesnt have the sting that he used to have. I havent seen Parera playing any memorable inning in last few years. Herath is considered good bowler because there arent any other good bowlers in the squad, otherwise he is ordinary. Chameera is still learning the skills. I wonder when Kapugedara will start to bat. Siriwardene showed some promising signs of in his debut tournament and miserable failed in India and this series. i dont know why Chandimal is in T20 team. Too much pressure on Mathews. New jayasuriya can never be like old Jayasuriya. Dilshan looks like grandfather now and not seeing ball. And there is one another player whom noone remembers, including team. I am a disappointed Srilankan Cricket fan.

  • Arslan Shaukat on March 4, 2016, 12:48 GMT

    Please make opener sarfraz opener he is strong player and can rotate the strike give him the possibility

  •   Munty Isz-Broke on March 4, 2016, 12:30 GMT

    @SRI_LANKAN_CRICKET_FAN I don't know who's comment made you upset but Bangladesh has nothing but respect for SriLanka and its people. You were our best allies in cricket when we were in need of every help possible. Your team is going through some tough time but it will turn into a formidable force soon enough. I, along with most Bangla fans, will be rooting for SriLanka in the match against Pakistan. GL.

  • Thewinner2014 on March 4, 2016, 12:07 GMT

    @ADALDON mate Where is the consistency in Thirimanne in shorter format. Last series against NZ , He scored 1 big inning ( > 50 runs ) in 5 matches in the series. Other all matches he scored less runs. This was happened in the Pak and WI series as well. Both of them have played cricket for more than 6 yrs, but never consistent, They never show any sign of taking responsibility. We have the feeling that Thirimanne survive in the side for 5-6 matches bcoz of occasional 1 good innings. If u r a die hard fan of him, u will argue that he can't score 50 runs in every match. that is true. But look at his generation legend players consistency and maturity when they bat. I still say both of them are just average players.

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