Pakistan look to sign off in style
Wednesday August 12, 2009
Start time 19.00 (01.30 GMT)
Sri Lanka's famously unorthodox outfit were unstoppable at the World Twenty20 in June until they ran into a fired-up Pakistan in the final. Since then, Kumar Sangakkara's men have shown their superiority over Pakistan in the Tests and one-dayers. So a win in the Wednesday's Twenty20 will be revenge as well as icing on the cake.
Both sides are missing key players from their World Twenty20 campaigns: Tillakaratne Dilshan, the most inventive and effective of Sri Lanka's batsmen in England, is injured, as is fast bowler Umar Gul, whose reverse-swing confounded Pakistan's opponents. Pakistan will miss the services of Abdul Razzaq too. Also, the form of two of Sri Lanka's bowling stars, Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga, has nosedived alarmingly.
Batting has been Pakistan's weakness on this tour but when it comes to Twenty20s, they are bursting with firepower. The emergence of Umar Akmal and the return of Nasir Jamshed and Imran Nazir gives their new captain, Shahid Afridi, plenty of big-hitters to choose from.
Despite defeats in the Tests and the first three ODIs, Pakistan will be confident after pulling off two straight one-day wins, particularly because of the dramatic failure of Sri Lanka's batting in those games.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka - LWWWW
Pakistan - WWWWL
Watch out for…
Shahid Afridi will have a lot to live up to following the World Twenty20 triumph, and the entire focus will be on how he handles the captaincy. Having scored fifties in his last two games, he will be looking to repeat his Man-of-the-Match performance in the World Twenty20 final in England.
Pakistan's smash hits: Umar Akmal showed what a destructive force he could be, smashing 102 off 72 balls in the fourth ODI in Colombo. He is very nearly a lookalike of his brother Kamran, and the two will look to make merry in the shortest format. With big-hitter Nazir also in contention, a breezy start for Pakistan is all but ensured.
The Sri Lanka pace duo of Nuwan Kulasekara and Thilan Thushara may have other plans, though. While Kulasekara topped the bowling charts in the three Tests with 17 wickets at 15.05, Thushara had the biggest haul in the ODIs with nine from four matches at 20.22. The hosts will look for an encore from the two Man of the Series respectively.
The vacancy created by Younis should be filled by Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf standing an outside chance to make his Twenty20 comeback. Nazir should walk into the opening role, given Shahzaib Hasan, who opened in World Twenty20, has not been picked in the squad. Naved-ul-Hasan and Iftikhar Anjum should make up for the absence of Gul and Razzaq.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Fawad Alam, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Naved-ul-Hasan, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Iftikhar Anjum.
The fifth bowler's slot remained a worry for Sri Lanka during their defeats in the ODIs. With left-arm medium-pacer Isuru Udana in the mix, the problem should be sorted out with either Malinga Bandara or Ajantha Mendis making way. It will also be interesting to see whether the opening combination of Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga is tinkered with, to draft in the new inclusion, Mahela Udawatte.
Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt/wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thilina Kandamby, 8 Muttiah Muralitharan, 9 Thilan Thushara, 10 Isuru Udana/Malinga Bandara/Ajantha Mendis, 11 Nuwan Kulasekara.
Weather and conditions
The forecast of scattered thunderstorms is similar to the fifth ODI where there wasn't a drop of rain. The venue is the same so expect the side winning the toss to bat. Chasing under lights has always been very difficult at the Premadasa.
Stats & trivia
- Shahid Afridi, at 5.74 an over, is one of only four bowlers who have played 10 Twenty20 internationals or more and have maintained an economy-rate of less than six. The other three are also in Sri Lanka currently: Ajantha Mendis, Umar Gul and Daniel Vettori.
- Shoaib Malik, with 527 runs, is third on the all-time run-getters' list in Twenty20 internationals. He is set to overtake No. 2 Kevin Pietersen (529) while Brendon McCullum has a healthy lead with 689 runs.