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February 28, 2009
Match factsSunday, March 1 - Thursday March 5
The two-Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has been reduced to a one-Test play-off after the draw in Karachi. The contest over the next five days at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is of utmost importance for both teams and their captains. For Younis Khan, it offers an opportunity to begin his tenure as Pakistan captain with a series win and speed up the transition process after the removal of his predecessor Shoaib Malik. Another motivating force will be the fact that Pakistan have not won a home series for more than two years. Their last success was against West Indies in November 2006.
For Sri Lanka, it is an opportunity to give their captain Mahela Jayawardene a successful farewell. Jayawardene had announced his decision to step down from captaincy at the end of the series and he has never led Sri Lanka to a Test-series win against Pakistan. It's also a chance to score a rare series win in Pakistan - Sri Lanka's last victory here was in 2000.
However, in order for both teams to achieve their objectives, the pitch at the Gaddafi Stadium will have to be far more bowler-friendly than the one in Karachi. A total of 1553 was scored in the first Test for the loss of only 18 wickets, six of which fell on the final day. The series, and cricket in Pakistan, cannot afford another sleep-inducing draw.
Form guide (most recent first)
Sri Lanka DWWWL
Watch out for …
Mahela Jayawardene: He was in poor form in the ODIs against India before coming to Pakistan but cashed in on the flat pitch in Karachi to score his fifth 200-plus score. Jayawardene will be keen to end his term as Sri Lanka captain with a substantial contribution. He averages nearly 68 as captain.
Mohammad Talha: He's 20 years old and is highly regarded by Wasim Akram. Talha didn't play the first Test but is tipped to make his debut in Lahore. A thin fast bowler, he generates skiddy pace and has taken 34 wickets in six Quaid-e-Azam matches this season.
It's unlikely that Pakistan will make any changes to their batting order after all their batsmen contributed towards their first-innings total of 765 in Karachi. However, they are likely to make one change to their bowling attack with Talha replacing Sohail Khan. Sohail made his debut in Karachi but had a horrid time, conceding 164 in 27 overs without taking a wicket. However, he had two catches dropped off him in the first innings and, given the flatness of that pitch, Pakistan might just give him another go.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Salman Butt, 2 Khurram Manzoor, 3 Younis Khan (capt), 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Faisal Iqbal, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Yasir Arafat, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Danish Kaneria, 11 Mohammad Talha.
Tharanga Paranativana was out for low scores in both innings on debut but he's likely to retain is spot as Sri Lanka continue their search for a regular opener. They are without the option of Farveez Maharoof, who has returned home with a groin injury, and are likely to retain the same XI.
Sri Lanka: (likely) 1 Malinda Warnapura, 2 Tharanga Paranativana, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Chaminda Vaas, 10 Dilhara Fernando, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Ajantha Mendis.
Pitch & conditions
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam was scathing in his criticism of the pitch at the National Stadium in Karachi, saying that it was not the sort of surface they were expecting. However, he seemed more pleased with the pitch in Lahore which, according to him, was "firm and looked good".
Stats & Trivia
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