Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Abu Dhabi December 26, 2013

Sri Lanka seek boost ahead of Tests


Match facts

Friday, December 27, 2013
Start time 1500 local (1100 GMT)

Big Picture

A series that at one stage seemed competitive has all of a sudden begun to feel like a one-sided one. Pakistan have been terrific with the bat all series before reclaiming their prowess with the ball, while Sri Lanka have allowed all areas of their game to slip. An eight-wicket drubbing to follow a 113-run loss does not bode well for the visitors in the final match.

On Christmas Day, Sri Lanka were ailed by largely the same issues that have troubled them in the previous matches. The attack lacked confidence and penetration as Lasith Malinga went wicketless for the second time in the series and Nuwan Kulasekara was uncharacteristically wayward. Rangana Herath's poise and experience has also been greatly missed, as has his indomitable spirit that has seen him script limited-overs comebacks before. Herath's replacement, Ajantha Mendis, is yet to get a game.

The batting has threatened in patches, but unlike Pakistan who have found a centurion in each match and made century stands a defining feature of their innings, Sri Lanka have not managed even one triple-figure partnership. The visitors' only win was a result of several modest contributions stacked together, but ODI history suggests piecemeal efforts only rarely result in victories. Sri Lanka need a top-order man to anchor each innings, as Mohammad Hafeez has done so prolifically for Pakistan.

Strangely for Pakistan, they have played safe, intelligent, formulaic cricket with the bat that Sri Lanka have not been able to challenge. Their attack has retained the flair that is the source of its menace. Saeed Ajmal claimed his best haul in the series in the last match, while both Umar Gul and Junaid Khan continue to bowl effective spells. If Pakistan can complete a 4-1 rout in Abu Dhabi, they will arrive in the Tests on a cloud of confidence, and will also have deflated the Sri Lanka batsmen who cross over into the longest format.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Pakistan: WWLWL

Sri Lanka: LLWLW

In the spotlight

Sri Lanka do not have a Dale Steyn in their ranks, but even so, Mohammad Hafeez's turnaround in ODI form has been staggering. Having not passed 35 in his last eight ODI innings, Hafeez now averages 203.50 in the series, with 147 more runs than the second-highest scorer. Hafeez seems at peace with his rhythm at the crease, and has rarely been tested by the Sri Lanka bowlers. Given his significant contributions with the ball and in the field, he is a certainty for the Man-of-the-Series award, regardless of what happens in the final match.

Ashan Priyanjan has waited on the boundary in two series before finally making his international debut, but when he did, he made it count. Exceptional square of the wicket and off the back foot, first-match nerves did not seem to affect him as he progressed to Sri Lanka's highest score of the series - 74. If he can replicate his success in the last match, he will put significant pressure on Dinesh Chandimal, who has not hit a limited-overs half-century since January, despite playing in almost every match since then. The selectors have expressed confidence in Chandimal's talent, but if they have a superior alternative of the same age, they will not be able to justify Chandimal's inclusion for long.

Team news

Shahid Afridi has flown back to Pakistan early due to personal reasons, but in any case, Pakistan may be tempted to trial young players in the dead rubber. Seam bowler Anwar Ali has been sitting on the sidelines for the whole series, as has left-handed batsman Haris Sohail. They may get a game tomorrow if Pakistan choose to rest key Test players, with the Test series starting on Tuesday.

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

Sri Lanka will almost certainly retain Priyanjan, and perhaps Kithuruwan Vithanage as well. If the surface looks like it will be receptive to turn, legspinning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna could return in place of either Suranga Lakmal or Kulasekara.

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

Stats and trivia

  • In addition to Hafeez' monumental series average, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohaib Maqsood and Ahmed Shehzad all have averages exceeding 50. Sri Lanka's best average for a batsman who has played more than one innings is 40 - to Angelo Mathews.
  • Junaid has taken ten wickets in the series, Ajmal seven and Gul six. The most penetrative Sri Lankan bowlers have been Suranga Lakmal and Thisara Perera with three apiece.


    "I think Gul set the tone right from the start, getting wickets with the new ball, and everyone else is really bowling and batting well. A series win gives us more confidence and delight."
    Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq

    "We didn't do very well in all departments. They played good cricket and were far better than us, so they deserved to win."
    Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pinidiya on December 27, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    @ lukecannon, you can't compare Kusal Perera with a TRUE talent like SJ, who had to prove his talents in the hardest-way to get into the side and keep his place in his early days, being an outstation boy. With no significant credentials at domestic level or international level, Kusal is nowhere near SJ. Unfortunately, Looks and Hype won't make a worthwhile cricketer. Kusal's pathetic 12.5 average in 10 ODIs and his domestic level list-A average proves it! Also, if Chandimal needs to be replaced, then clearly it should be PRIYANJAN, and NOT by VITHANAGE.!

  • Dummy on December 27, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    As Pakistan already shown fantastic game spirit in series they will also close this series with memorable game In sha Allah.

  • Android on December 27, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    Best of luck Pakistan... and Sri lanka toooo!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    As a Pakistani, I support my team but if there is any team that I want to see win after Pakistan has to be Sri Lanka.

    Best of luck Lankans!

  • Rohan on December 27, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    Oh, all of a sudden Kusal Janith Perera is the next Sanath Jayasuriya much like Ashan Priyanjan is the next Aravinda de Silva, Angelo matthews is the next Arjuna Ranatunga, Sachitra Senanayake is the next Muttiah Muralitharan, Dinesh Chandimal the next Roshan Mahanama, Lasith Malinga the next Chaminda Vaas... Go SL, World Cup 2015 is yours to loose from here.

  • USMAN on December 27, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    If Sri Lankans did not lose their heart and play bravely they still better then Pakistan. Good Luck both teams for today's match.

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    vithanage and priyanjan are doing good. mattew and chandi must contribute more. i really think mahela, sanga, dili and upul taranga must play every match hereafter... specially upul.. he should be the next guy to take responsibility after top 3 retires.

  • jhg on December 27, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    If I were Hafeez, I would let the talented youngster Harris Sohail to play todays match and rest myself. But its not me its Hafeez who wants to score against the weak Sri-Lankan side, this shows the selfish attitude of the Pak seniors towards there juniors.

  • Tanzeel on December 27, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    What a turnaround of fate for Mohammad Hafeez and Dale Steyn. Steyn has not taken wicket since more than 70 overs and Hafeez has scored 3 centuries in last 4 mataches. Some mystry in their relationship. B)

  • Android on December 27, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    SL bowling certainly lacks that nip which only pace can bring about. i guess addition of chaminda eranga and nuwan pradeep would help a lot and in batting department it's up to SL juniors chandimaal and thirimanne the latter is injured so young players must perform rather than always expecting senior pros to perform!

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