Batting continues to worry Pakistan
Saturday August 1, 2009
Start time 10.00 (04.30 GMT)
Big PictureThe first one-dayer on Thursday wasn't as one-sided as it was turning out to be at one stage. The Pakistan lower order fought commendably with only a couple of wickets in hand but it wasn't enough to erase an inept performance by the top order. Pakistan's coach, Intikhab Alam, stated after the match that the pitch was not to blame; his team lost it in the field when they had a chance to restrict the Sri Lankans below 200. The bowlers struggled to contain a rampaging Muttiah Muralitharan in the third Powerplay and the Sri Lankans took the psychological advantage with them in the better part of the chase as well.
Intikhab didn't blame the defeat on bad batting. But the top order's frailties against the swing generated by Sri Lanka's penetrative new-ball attack remains a concern. In four matches against them, Pakistan are yet to register a win, despite the contests being closely fought. Pakistan need to win tomorrow or else they will have to win all their remaining games to win the series.
Sri Lanka too didn't bat as well as they would have liked, but have fewer concerns overall compared to their opponents. Kumar Sangakkara wasn't exactly chuffed with the way his bowlers lost the plot towards the end of the chase. Death bowling is something the home side will need to sharpen.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka - WWLLL
Pakistan - LWLLL
Watch out for…
Shahid Afridi: He made a start in the first ODI, hitting a brisk 27 before a poor shot - dabbing a short ball to the keeper - cut short his knock. More is expected from him, both with bat and ball as this series progresses. If he retains his No.3 spot, he can focus more on anchoring the innings.
Thilan Thushara: He was the best bowler across both sides in the opening match - taking 3 for 29 - and his early strikes derailed Pakistan's chase. In Chaminda Vaas' absence, Sri Lanka have found an effective replacement who gets enough zip off the pitch. He cleaned up Kamran Akmal with a back-of-a-length ball which snuck through bat and pad, before removing Afridi and Younis Khan.
Team newsIntikhab conceded that the decision to send Shoaib Malik to open didn't work out as planned, which could strengthen Imran Nazir's case for an inclusion. If he's included, one of the non-performers in the middle order will have to make way.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Younis Khan (capt), 4 Fawad Alam, 5 Shahid Afridi, 6 Shoaib Malik/Misbah-ul-Haq, 7 Mohammad Yousuf, 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Sri Lanka will probably retain their winning combination.
Sri Lanka: (likely) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
Stats and trivia
- Despite Pakistan's unsuccessful run-chase in the first ODI, Dambulla remains a better pitch for the team batting second in day games. Teams batting first average 3.84 per over and 20.09 per wicket. For teams chasing, the numbers are 3.98 and 26.94.
- Murali's Man-of-the-Match award on Thursday was his second against Pakistan and his third at the Dambulla Stadium in 16 ODIs at that ground.
- Murali's starting to win matches ... with the bat. In the tri-series final against Bangladesh in Mirpur this January, his whirlwind unbeaten 33 guided Sri Lanka to the title in the most freakish manner possible.