Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sri Lanka look to end tour on a high note

After comprehensively outplaying Sri Lanka throughout the tour, Pakistan will look to reign supreme in the shortest format of the game as well when the teams clash in Abu Dhabi for their one-off Twenty20 International. Surprising as it may sound, Pakistan are ranked seventh in ICC T20 rankings – a format they seem best suited for. On the other hand, Sri Lanka are ranked second on the table, and the only notable success they have had since World Cup has come in T20s only.

Sri Lanka look extremely out of ideas to arrest their woeful slide. While the unpredictable nature of T20 cricket gives them their best chance on tour to rectify it, their chances of doing so look slim against a Pakistan side gaining momentum with each win. Pakistan, on the other hand, are hungry for more wins, not only to put aside their off-field controversies behind them, but also to improve their seventh-placed ICC T20 ranking – something that took Misbah ul Haq by a shock. Of the last 10 T20 matches, Pakistan have won only three, two of them against the minnows Zimbabwe.

Injuries have depleted both sides with valuable talent, though Sri Lanka’s loss is more damaging on two counts. First, injuries to key players hamper the team’s hopes of change in fortunes. Secondly, their bench strength does not possess the same firepower and abundance in talent as Pakistan’s.

Mahela Jayawardene, who missed the last ODI as well, will be missed at the top of the order. In addition, skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan will wait on his fitness to decide whether he plays or not. For Pakistan, Abdul Razzaq had already been ruled out. In addition, Junaid Khan also suffered an abdominal tear during the last ODI and has been ruled out for six weeks. Such injuries will allow both sides to blood more youngsters into the side. Sri Lanka are likely to give Kosala Kulasekara and the experienced Ajantha Mendis a go. For Pakistan, Umar Akmal is likely to keep wickets again.

The match is scheduled for a late evening start on the weekly holiday of Friday. Therefore, a packed house should not be surprising. Interestingly, Pakistan have lost both their previous T20 games at this ground and will be hoping to set that record straight.

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