Saturday, November 12, 2011

Upbeat Pakistan look to extend lead

After roaring to a convincing victory in the first match, Pakistan will be keen on carrying the winning momentum in the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Monday. Sri Lanka, the World Cup finalists, though have plenty of worries going into the match, having tasted very little success in the past six months.

Pakistan could not have scripted a better performance than the show they put up on Friday. The fast bowlers started off well, maintained the pressure and eventually the spinners breathed down Sri Lanka’s batting with contained bowling and crucial wickets. Bowling will once again be the key for Pakistan, and the blend of youth and experience is allowing them to adjust into their own roles well. The variety at Misbah ul Haq’s disposal is also something any captain would cherish on the slow, low surfaces of Dubai. The bulk of the batting is yet to be tested, though half-centuries from Imran Farhat and Younis Khan should do their own confidence a lot of good plus silence their critics to some extent. The all-rounders give Pakistan some easy breathing space, with hard-hitting Abdul Razzaq coming in at number eight. But all eyes will once again be on Shahid Afridi, expectations from whom are sky high following his Man-of-the-Match performance on his comeback.

Sri Lankan dressing room presents a totally opposite scenario to that of Pakistan. Their batting woes fail to go away, and even wholesale changes to the squad from the test series brought little luck, if any. Their batsmen need to get their act right urgently, as too many batsmen threw their wickets away to soft dismissals. Failure to convert the starts into big scores has been a recurring problem for the Tigers. The bowling also looked toothless, though it can be argued that it was a result of trying too hard defending a paltry total of 131. Lasith Malinga looked off-color but such is his threat that he can come good any moment. Suranga Lakmal continues to impress and if Pakistan are complacent against him, the latter can be caught off guard against Lakmal.

The conditions will be similar to the first match played here, with warm temperatures expected throughout the day/night encounter. The captain winning the toss is likely to favor batting first. Interestingly, the team winning the toss on this ground has won only once out of six attempts.

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