|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Andrew Fidel Fernando
August 25, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)
The locals in Sri Lanka's southeast had been hoping for heavy rains to rejuvenate their crops and refill their wells. The rain though, has been in Colombo. Hambantota gets extra cricket instead. Given Sri Lanka have now lost three on the trot at the venue, that may not be much of a condolence prize.
Sri Lanka is often thought of as a tough team to beat at home, particularly in limited-overs cricket. But since 2006, they have lost seven bilateral ODI series at home to the six they have won. In the last two years, they have also drawn against New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Pakistan now have the chance to inflict a successive ODI series loss on the hosts, after South Africa beat them 2-1 last month. Angelo Mathews already has one eye trained on the World Cup, and had said he would experiment with Sri Lanka's combination in this series. But he will be tempted to shelve those ambitions for now, and pick his strongest team.
Pakistan, meanwhile, are out to get silverware out of this tour. They had seemed sunk on Saturday until two batsmen with fewer than 50 ODIs between them put on a partnership worthy of seasoned one-day cricketers. Perhaps the wisest thing about their 147-run stand was that neither batsman seemed keen to rely on Shahid Afridi.
Saturday's was the kind of win that fills a batting unit with confidence. If they can win a chase from five down, 160 adrift and the required rate touching seven an over, they might feel anything is possible. Moreover, Misbah-ul-Haq now seems to have some level-headed company in the middle order. They will be without their other middle-order anchor though, with Younis Khan returning home due to personal reasons. They will also need to make do without ace spinner Saeed Ajmal for one more match, but even without him, the bowling and batting appears to have the depth and variety to deal with whatever the temperamental Hambantota venue serves up on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka: LLWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Upul Tharanga's reintroduction to the top teams has been well-earned, but he is still working on locking down a place in both the ODI and Test teams. He top scored in the Test victory at SSC, but the edginess outside off stump that has always been his bane has not yet been fully dealt with. There is now competition for opening spots, across all formats. If Tharanga wants a place in Sri Lanka's World Cup side, he will need consistent scores.
Sohaib Maqsood was the star of Saturday's chase, but alongside him for much of his innings was Fawad Alam who has begun to carve a niche for himself as the busy engine-room batsman in Pakistan's middle order. There is nothing eye-catching about Alam's batting, except an ability to find gaps, and an opportunistic streak that sees him squeeze out runs when most would see none there. He has a bandit's beard and hairstyle, to match his style of play. Alam has crossed 50 in all his three ODIs this year, and an average of 47.38 after 28 innings suggests Pakistan unearthed something valuable.
The only place in Sri Lanka's top order that does not seem settled is the Dinesh Chandimal-Lahiru Thirimanne spot. Elsewhere, Sri Lanka may be tempted to bring in offspinner Suraj Randiv, if only to prevent Rangana Herath from disintegrating into the molecules that comprise him, given his workload this year.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne/Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Ashan Priyanjan, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara 11 Lasith Malinga
In Younis Khan's absence, Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad will open, while Mohammad Hafeez will be pushed down to No.3.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Sharjeel Khan, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Umar Akmal (wk), 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Fawad Alam, 7 Sohaib Maqsood, 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan
Pitch and conditions
Strong winds are almost always a factor at Hambantota, but the seamers may find something in the pitch under lights as well. Good weather is forecast for the duration of the match.
Stats and trivia
"If one gets going he needs to play well and post a good total for the bowlers to bowl at. We can't expect all seven to perform well everyday."
Angelo Mathews on playing seven batsmen
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat
Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena
Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010
The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough
The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be
After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test