Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pakistan wary of resurgent Sri Lanka

If there’s something you’re sure of about Pakistan going into every match, it is their unpredictable nature. After a convincing win in the first win, Pakistan gave Sri Lanka a much-needed morale-boosting win to level the series. The teams clash for a third time on Friday, and getting your nose ahead in this game may ultimately prove crucial in the context of the series.

Sri Lanka would be buoyed by the return to form of their key batsmen Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene, both scoring half-centuries. The batting though still has some questions to answer, as a total of 235 seemed disappointing following a breezy start when they reached 50 in 10 overs. Angelo Mathews, playing purely as a batsman, will have to do more to justify his position at No. 6. The bowling, though won them the match, still largely depends on Lasith Malinga and can be seen as a handicap. While Thissara Perera looked threatening, the rest of the bowlers easily allowed Pakistan to come back after being 3-11 inside four overs. Suranga Lakmal missed the second match through injury, and is still uncertain for the third ODI.

Pakistan must realize that despite outdoing Sri Lanka in all departments of the game overall, the series is still level. It is the key moments that Sri Lanka seized on Monday and Pakistan need to avoid a repeat of those. Umar Akmal’s 91-run knock is a welcome sign, but the 21-year old batsman still has to learn to take his team over the line to consider his job done. Mohammad Hafeez has failed in two outings thus far, but there are no alarms yet over his place in the team. Sloppy running and poor batting let them down on Monday, and the coach Mohsin Khan is expected to have come hard the players to avoid a similar situation. In the bowling, Aizaz Cheema may make way for left-arm pacer Junaid Khan who is also known for his controlled bowling in the death overs. Saeed Ajmal yet again proved expensive in the final overs, bringing back memories of the infamous T20 semi-final against Australia in 2010 when Mike Hussey took Ajmal to cleaners.

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