High-flying Pakistan plot another win
Match factsMonday, November 14
Start time 1500 (1100 GMT)
Big PictureWith every passing match, the stock of Misbah-ul-Haq continues to rise. A dysfunctional board, the loss of world-class fast bowlers to the spot-fixing crisis, a fall-out between captain and coach earlier in the year leading to the brief retirement of the talismanic Shahid Afridi - none of that has stopped Misbah from steering Pakistan to an almost six-month unbeaten run. Some of the opposition along the way might have been the lightweights, but the thumping win in the first one-dayer came against one of the top limited-overs sides in the world. For a man whose international career seemed well and truly over a little more than a year ago, it's been quite a ride since taking over as captain.
Things haven't been as smooth for the man who became Sri Lanka's leader after the World Cup. There's been some scattered Twenty20 success, but Tillakaratne Dilshan's side has lost all their major Test and ODI assignments over the past six months. After the abysmal batting collapse in the first one-dayer, Dilshan was critical of the shot-selection, especially from a hugely experienced top order. His own one-day form hasn't been great, and Sri Lanka have the added worry of Mahela Jayawardene struggling with a knee injury, which could put him out of Monday's match.
Form guidePakistan WWWWW
Sri Lanka LWLWL
Watch out for…The solidity of Pakistan's openers in recent matches have reduced the opportunities for Umar Akmal, but a substantial performance from him will deter the team management from being tempted to replace him with Shoaib Malik. Umar was Man of the Match when Pakistan halted Australia's 34-match World Cup unbeaten streak, but he hasn't made a half-century against Test opposition in more than a year. The talent has never been in doubt, and he's still only 21, but the results need more consistency.
Another highly rated 21-year-old batsman looking to make an impression is Dinesh Chandimal. After the highs of a Lord's century, his form has nosedived - three low scores against Australia led to him losing his spot. He regained his place in the XI on Friday and top scored with 28 but his position in the order is a source of debate. Jayawardene usually prefers to bat as high as possible, but Chandimal's presence at No. 4 pushes Jayawardene down to three-down. "I want Chandimal to bat between Sanga and Mahela," Dilshan said. "Sanga comes in at three and Mahela at five, and if Chandimal can bat around the two of them it would be good."
Team newsAfter their comprehensive victory on Friday, Pakistan are unlikely to want to tinker with their combination.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Imran Farhat, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt.), 6 Abdul Razzaq, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema
Though it was the batting that was abject in their defeat in the previous game, Sri Lanka's top six is more or less set in stone, unless if Jayawardene fails to recover from his knee problem. In that case, Dimuth Karunaratne, the 23-year-old top-order batsman from SSC, will likely take his place. Changes are likely to come lower down in the order, with Thisara Perera and Jeevan Mendis as possible replacements for the new boys, Kosala Kulasekara and Seekkuge Prasanna. Perera could even be brought in at the expense of Dilhara Fernando, who was erratic on Friday though he touched express speeds of 145kph.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Kosala Kulasekara 8 Thisara Perera 9 Seekkuge Prasanna/Jeevan Mendis 10 Lasith Malinga 11 Suranga Lakmal
Stats and trivia
- Shahid Afridi's Man-of-the-Match award on Friday was his 25th, one more than Inzamam-ul-Haq has received. Saeed Anwar (28) is the only Pakistan player with more such honours.
- Tillakaratne Dilshan's batting form has deserted him in ODIs since he took over as captain after the World Cup. In 12 matches, he has only one half-century and averages a paltry 13.66.
Quotes"He handles things well and is somewhat like Arjuna Ranatunga and he has the patience to wait until he achieves what he wants to."
Marvan Atapattu, Sri Lanka's batting coach, is impressed with the calmness Misbah brings to the Pakistan side
"I've got experienced guys in the team and they're really doing very well, especially Younis Khan, who's always contributing to the team, now Shahid Afridi has come in and performed very well and Abdul Razzaq also bowled very well (on Friday)."
Misbah says the presence of old hands in the side makes his job easy
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo