Another tough test awaits batsmen
Saturday, June 9
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)
The Big Picture
Weren't the limited-overs formats, especially in the subcontinent, supposed to be a batsman's game? The two Twenty20s in Hambantota and the first ODI in Pallekele have all been about the bowlers though, with the batsmen being tested in seaming conditions reminiscent of cricket in the early English summer. The frequent rain interruptions during Thursday's one-dayer added to that impression.
June is not cricket season in Sri Lanka traditionally, mainly due to the wet weather. Only two ODI series have been played in Sri Lanka in that month: the Nidahas Trophy in 1998 which had half its matches wiped out by rain, and the Asia Cup in 2010 which was held in the dry zone of Dambulla. Like the first ODI, rain is expected during Saturday's match.
Pakistan will like a repeat of the result on Thursday, but not a reprise of their fielding. They put down a handful of simple catches on their way to a straightforward victory, disproving the old adage that "catches win matches". Another aspect they will want to improve is the discipline while bowling - the 23 wides they bowled made up one-sixth of Sri Lanka's total.
Sri Lanka were pretty much out of the game within the first 15 overs, as their experienced top order failed against the swing and seam. They had slid to 68 for 6 when Saeed Ajmal was introduced. The form of Sri Lanka's top-three batsmen - Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, none of whom have crossed 20 in three games this series - remains a concern.
Form guide(Most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLLLL
Watch out for...
Mohammad Sami, playing his first ODI in more than five years, got a dream surface to bowl on which the ball was jagging around so much, the batsmen could barely get bat on it.. Sami revelled in the conditions, working up some solid pace as he finished with 3 for 19.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was the top run-getter in the CB series earlier this year, but had an indifferent time at both the Asia Cup and the IPL. The lacklustre run has continued in this series as well, with Dilshan going for the adventurous hits even before gauging the tricky tracks on offer.
One question for Pakistan to ponder is whether to get in an extra batsman, given how difficult run-making has proved. They went in with Shahid Afridi at No. 6 in the first ODI, making their batting line-up look a little shallow.
Pakistan (likely) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Sami
Despite the heavy defeat on Thursday, Sri Lanka are likely to go in with the same XI.
Sri Lanka (likely) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Upul Tharanga, 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lasith Malinga
Stats and trivia
- In their last 14 matches against Pakistan, Sri Lanka have crossed 250 only twice
- With 30 wickets, Lasith Malinga is comfortably the leading wicket-taker of the year in ODIs
- Sri Lanka are among Umar Akmal's preferred opposition sides: in 12 innings, he has a hundred and four half-centuries against them with his 506 runs coming at an average of 56.22
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo