Pakistan look to avoid meek surrender
Monday August 3, 2009
Start time 10.00 (04.30 GMT)
Two one-sided matches later, Pakistan have been left with a tall mountain to climb if they are to salvage anything from this series. Outclassed in the previous ODIs at the same venue, Younis Khan will be keen to win his first match of the tour before the party shifts to Colombo. The batting has been the biggest worry for Pakistan and maybe it is high time that coach Intikhab Alam turns to his ICL returnees - Imran Nazir and Naved-ul-Hasan - hoping for the same success that Abdul Razzaq brought after he was given a starting place in the ICC World Twenty20.
A 2-0 lead in the five-match series could not have been prettier for Kumar Sangakkara. With Sri Lanka firing on all cylinders, Sangakkara's hopes of building a strong outfit for the 2011 World Cup have received a major boost. Sweeter still will be sealing the series, having bagged the reverse fixture in Pakistan in January this year, with another clinical performance in Dambulla.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka - WWWLL
Pakistan - LLWLL
Watch out for…
Mohammad Aamer: It comes as a shocker that the rookie fast bowler, along with Umar Gul, has been the top run-scorer for Pakistan in two matches. While he has managed 47 runs at a similar average, Aamer is also Pakistan's highest wicket-taker with four at 19.00. In fact, his bowling has provided the only sunshine in what has been a dismal campaign so far.
Thilan Thushara: He continues to dominate the bowling charts in this series. Thushara proved his 3 for 29 in the first match was no fluke, picking up 3 for 33 in the second. With an economy rate of below four in both games, his zip off the pitch has troubled the Pakistan top order. There will be no relenting in this crucial fixture as well.
Team newsPakistan may well be unforgiving, given Nasir Jamshed's failure at the top, and should opt to give Imran Nazir a try. And with Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi capable of handling the spin department, Saeed Ajmal may make way for Naved as well.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Younis Khan (capt), 4 Fawad Alam, 5 Shahid Afridi, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Umar Akmal, 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Naved-ul-Hasan 10 Umar Gul, 11 Mohammad Aamer.
Sri Lanka are unlikely to change the XI as they zero in on a series win.
Sri Lanka: (likely) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt/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
- If he does get a run, Naved is five away of getting to 100 wickets in ODIs. His former fellow-ICL player Razzaq needs just one more to reach 250.
- Having concentrated on his batting and bowling stats in earlier matches, it's Murali's catching abilities we focus on. He needs just two more to topple Roshan Mahanama's record of 32 for the most number of catches against Pakistan. He is also set to go past Wasim Akram's record for most wickets in clashes between the two countries, needing just one more to go past Akram's 92.
Judhajit Basu is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo