June 13, 2012
Historically, Pakistan has always been a side touted for its exceptional skills with the ball. In fact Pakistan has produced legends in all facets of bowling. Abdul Qadir dominated the world of leg spin, Saqlain Mushtaq had some of the best batsmen in a tangle with his off spin, while Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar were fantastic at spearing the ball down those 22 yards and making it swing.
Sadly, the 2nd ODI that Pakistan played against Sri Lanka had nothing to offer, as far as the visitors’ exponents with the ball goes. Pakistan’s bowling performance was so poor and lacked so much spunk that it would have tempted those five gentlemen, named above, to come back and don the green jersey. The only thing that might stop those gentlemen from doing so, is the fact that this line up still features some of the best bowlers in cricket, who are more than capable of bouncing back, and that is exactly what Misbah-ul-Haq will hope for in the 3rd ODI.
Sri Lanka on the other hand have come back strongly from a 1-0 deficit, to level the series at one a piece. The hosts played some good all round cricket in the 2nd ODI at Pallekele owing to a sensible innings by Tillakaratne Dilshan and a fantastic bowling effort by Thisara Perera. Mahela Jayawardene will want his side to keep the momentum going in this long series that feature five matches and will know that a win in the 3rd ODI, will put some serious pressure on the opponents.
Pakistan: In this series, as always, Pakistan has relied on its bowlers quite heavily. The batting has never really been Pakistan’s mainstay and this series has been no different. A big issue for Misbah and his men has been the fact that most batsmen are horribly out of form. Apart from Azhar Ali’s 96, no one has put together an innings of substance. In fact, no Pakistani batsman apart from Ali has even come close to scoring a half century. Obviously it is still early days in the series but if the visitors are to win the next three ODIs, then they are going to have to bat a lot better than they have until now.
The bowling has been quite erratic and inconsistent in this particular series. Over the span of two ODIs, the quality of bowling has gone from being as exciting as a ‘Hitchcock thriller’ to as boring as a daily soap opera. The equation for Pakistan’s bowlers is very simple now, come back strong with the ball in the 3rd ODI or risk depending on a batting line up that shows very little application.
The real chink in the armour as far as Pakistan’s bowling goes is Rahat Ali, who got just four overs in the 2nd ODI and was taken apart in all of them. After that short stint, the visitors might be eager to bring Aizaz Cheema into the scheme of things. Apart from that, the side should remain the same, but hopefully the bowling will go back to what it has been renowned for in the past few years.
Sri Lanka: Both the ODIs so far have been indicative of one thing, it is imperative for one or two amongst the trio of Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawardene to perform. If that doesn’t happen then Sri Lanka’s batting collapses as fast as a land slide but if the batsmen do click then it holds firm. The hosts were woeful with the bat in the first ODI but came back with some venom in the next fixture. It will be interesting to see what happens if the famed trio fails though.
As far the bowling goes, Sri Lanka has quite a potent pace attack, led by Lasith Malinga and with Perera coming into some form, it is one that is capable of creating more than just a problem or two. Rangana Herath has been rested for the remaining part of the series and it will be interesting to see if his replacement Sajeewa Weerakoon gets a game. Sangakkara has been out of form for a while but it will be highly unlikely that he is made to sit out. The side should stay the same as the one that played in the 2nd ODI, besides teams are never too keen on tinkering with winning combinations.
Weather: Unfortunately at this time of the year Sri Lanka does receive some rainfall and the chance of rain on the day of this match is as high as 60% with heavy rain showers being predicted through the afternoon.
Final Word: Both sides have shown glimpses of brilliance and have been poor at times in this series. Sri Lanka’s batting relies too heavily on the three senior players and if Pakistan can get their act together with the ball then the visitors should come out on top. The venue for the 3rd ODI is Colombo and the ball could just turn a bit on that pitch, that would be a boost for the likes of Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. The weather though might cause the pitch to be rather damp and that could help the seamers, and would give Sri Lanka an edge over their opponents.