Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Abu Dhabi

Buoyant Pakistan aim for series win

The Preview by Andrew Fidel Fernando

December 24, 2013

Comments: 107 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Start time 1500 local (1100 GMT)


Dinesh Chandimal hit three sixes in his 46, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Sharjah, December 18, 2013
Dinesh Chandimal has had starts in this series but Sri Lanka need a big score from him © Getty Images
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Following the first truly one-sided result in the tour on Sunday, Pakistan seem to have secured a marked edge in what had previously been an evenly-matched encounter. Their new advantage is down mainly to the arrival of one man.

On Sunday, Umar Gul returned from a nine-month injury layoff to provide the menace that Pakistan had lacked with the new ball, as well as control and experience with the slightly older one. Gul was not required to bowl in the death overs, but given the pace and accuracy he had achieved early on, he would likely have helped ease Pakistan's woes later in the innings as well.

Beyond Gul's own contribution, his early breakthroughs put Pakistan so far ahead of the game that Misbah-ul-Haq could reserve his best spinners until later in the innings. Saeed Ajmal didn't bowl until the 25th over and Mohammad Hafeez didn't take the ball until the 28th. This ensured a lower-order revival would be almost impossible, even for a team that bats as deep as Sri Lanka do now. Both attacks had been mediocre in the first two matches but suddenly Pakistan have discovered dynamism there. With the top order drenched in form, all parts of their ODI engine have begun to hum nicely.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have learned some valuable lessons in the series. In a brave new ODI world where 300 is the old 250 and the mandatory Powerplay induces caution, they cannot hope to restrict the opposition without taking wickets.

Exactly how they will remedy that flaw is less certain. Nuwan Kulasekara has found more swing than any other bowler in the series but he has not bowled tightly enough to deserve a bagful. Lasith Malinga's pace has dropped significantly and he no longer seems the penetrative bowler he once was, in any case. Sri Lanka's spinners have been well-placed to attack, but Angelo Mathews has not set them fields that would spark a collapse from the opposition. In all, they have persevered with a bland, cookie-cutter strategy in the field, and cannot be surprised that Pakistan have prospered with a simple, repeated batting formula. Even the one victory Sri Lanka has scored was due mostly to a spirited effort with the bat.

Fittingly, Pakistan are now one victory away from securing the series.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Pakistan: WLWLW
Sri Lanka: LWLWL

In the spotlight

With a half-century in the second match and 40 in the third, Misbah-ul-Haq has reclaimed his place atop 2013's ODI run-scorer's list - all without having reached triple figures, which each of the other batsmen in the top 10 have done. In addition to his near-superhuman consistency, Misbah has also been a fine captain in the series, setting exactly the kinds of attacking fields that Mathews could learn from. Misbah has marshaled his resources expertly too, reading his bowlers and the opposition batsmen well. If his team can complete a series win, it will be a fitting end to Misbah's ODI year.

Conversely, Dinesh Chandimal has not hit an ODI fifty in his last 17 innings. Batting at a more favourable No. 4 in this series, he has made three good starts but has still seemed far from the bright spark that hit two one-day hundreds in his first six matches. There is talk at home that he has stagnated since those early days, and if he cannot make a substantial score in either of the remaining matches, that din will only grow.

Pitch and conditions

Mathews has been fearful of dew all series, but he has finally admitted that batting first on a good batting track may not be bad move. Perhaps Sri Lanka can secure the services of Misbah's weather man, whose predictions have been correct throughout the series.

Team news

Bilawal Bhatti seems the only weak link the Pakistan attack, and there may be a case for bringing Anwar Ali in. Besides that, it is difficult to see Pakistan making changes.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Sharjeel Khan, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Sohaib Maqsood, 5 Misbah-ul- Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Bilawal Bhatti/ Anwar Ali, 9 Umar Gul, 10. Saeed Ajmal, 11. Junaid Khan

Lahiru Thirimanne remains in doubt due to a sprained right ankle. He had been replaced by Dimuth Karunaratne for the last two matches, but after Karunaratne's duck in the last match, Sri Lanka may look to give one of their young reserve batsmen a match.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5. Angelo Mathews (capt), 6. Dimuth Karunaratne/Ashan Priyanjan/Kithuruwan Vithanage, 7. Thisara Perera 8. Seekkuge Prasanna, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10. Sachithra Senanayake, 11. Lasith Malinga

Stats and trivia

  • After 30 innings, Dinesh Chandimal's ODI average had been 43.08 and his strike rate 78. In his 30 most recent knocks, Chandimal has averaged 21.92 with a strike rate of 67.
  • If Misbah hits 60 more runs in the next two matches, he will have had a more prolific ODI year than any batsman has managed since 2007, and the best aggregate in a non-World Cup year since 2000.

Quotes

"You have to assess the conditions and the wickets first, and then decide on the combination and what we will do first. We need to play to our strengths, but we will rethink about our strategies and go forward."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews suggests a shift in strategy may be imminent.

"The way this team is playing, all the batsmen are in form and all of them have been scoring runs, and big runs. So the confidence is high and even if you are chasing, you remain optimistic and know how to build your innings, how to pace the chase. So hopefully, we will be able to bat the same way in a chase and keep performing like this."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has faith in his top order

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by android_user on (December 26, 2013, 6:59 GMT)

INSHA ALLAH we will win the next match too... to end the series in confindence for the test matches.... i think and wish it will be 4-1.... best of luck for both the team.....

Posted by Ranjit_Perera on (December 25, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

First I would like to congratulate the PAK team because they showed the winning spirit in all the departments of the game (Bowling, Batting & Fielding) and a big big hard luck for our SL team and better luck in the upcoming ODI series vs BAN & ENG.Look guys I read a lot of non sensible comments about the toss winning call of Matthews, sometimes you want him to bat and other times to bowl and at the end of the match if the result didn't go our way you guys abuse, curse and blame Matthews for his call, so please stop it now because for a strong and full-of-greats team like SL the toss should not matter at all.Anyway far from all this talk I think we 50% lost the match when Sanga-Priyanjan partnership was broken by an unlucky run-out of Sanga and the other 50% was because of our bowling department, I mean read the statistics by yourself here and it is up-to-this-date :for the last 4 ODIs played between these two teams, SL took 16 wkts and PAK took 38 wkts, you can see the difference.

Posted by Ranjit_Perera on (December 25, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

First I would like to congratulate the PAK team because they showed the winning spirit in all the departments of the game (Bowling, Batting & Fielding) and a big big hard luck for our SL team and better luck in the upcoming ODI serieses vs BAN & ENG.Look guys I read a lot of non sensible comments about the toss winning call of Matthews, sometimes you want him to bat and other times to bowl and at the end of the result didn't go our way you abuse and curse and blame Matthews call so please stop it now because it for a strong and full-of-greats team like SL the toss should not matter at all.Away from all this talk I think we 50% lost the match when Sanga-Priyanjan partnership was broken by an unlucky run-out for Sanga and the other 50% was because of our all bowling department, I mean read the statistics up-to-this-date for the last 4 ODI played between these two teams; SL took 16 wkts and PAK took 38 wkts you all can see the difference regardless of the pitch behavior or nature.

Posted by shani88 on (December 25, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

In my opinion Anwar Ali should have given chance in place of Bilawal Bhatti as he is not performing in last three ODI's its simply unethical not to give chance to proper players.

Posted by wapuser on (December 25, 2013, 11:18 GMT)

Pakistan have done series win pakistani every people is very well performis is good looking but misbah ul haq is not lucky

Posted by Captain_Tuk_Tuk on (December 25, 2013, 10:56 GMT)

@Yousufahmed1 Not in your wildest dreams its 2% Srilanka after they have won the toss and elected to bat you'll see Srilanka at there best today I think they'll win today and not to mention I am a Pakistani fan :)

Posted by AyaanChina on (December 25, 2013, 10:47 GMT)

Sri Lankan, decision about bat first is alarming especially when Pakistan was expecting to bat first in this match also

Posted by K5274 on (December 25, 2013, 10:36 GMT)

I dont know why people hate on the akmal brothers umar akmal is as good as gold for pakistan in limit formats and he can keep too.. Well some what it's just upto misbah and hafiz how they use him. Sarfraz Ahmed should be brought for tests only .. well he might be the only choice pakistan have for tests for a wicket keeper.

Posted by Yousufahmed1 on (December 25, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

Easy win for PAK on cards here. When your best bowler is Malinga who is the most unfit cricketer then what can you expect. PAK will cross 300 without breaking into sweat and rest will be history as we know how fragile SL batting is. 98% PAK win, 2% SL if they get lucky.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2013, 10:22 GMT)

sarfraz scored ton in a 1st class game not list A. So he can be considered for tests not ODIs. His list A avg is 28. But a decent 1st class record. For Odi's he is no way near the international batting level. For odi's M Rizwan is good choice. And for tests, i think sarfraz is way better than Adnan in terms of batting.

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