Monday, 18 June 2012

Stunned Pakistan seek to save series

Match facts
Monday, June 18
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)

Younis Khan was the first of Thisara Perera's hat-trick victims, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 4th ODI, Colombo, June 16, 2012

Big Picture
Pakistan's batsmen deprived their team of a chance of winning the series, collapsing to lose seven wickets for 13 runs after reaching a position of advantage in the chase in the fourth ODI. An implosion of that nature can be dispiriting, the painstaking yet determined progress by their captain and an emerging top-order talent decimated by the ineptness of those followed. Not too long ago, in 2009 in Sri Lanka, such collapses cost Pakistan the Test series; they have another game to get their batting in order before the Tests.
That's if the weather permits them, though there's the insurance of a reserve day. The balance of power has shifted from spin to pace in the Sri Lankan bowling line-up, and the hosts' seamers have shown there's sufficient ammunition to defend a competitive score. Their batting has improved significantly, led by their experienced trio, after a forgettable performance in the rain-affected first ODI. Sri Lanka are a team on a high; Pakistan, with some sloppy fielding and misfiring batting, not so.
This Premadasa track is not the one that made the venue a fortress of sorts for the home team in the previous couple of decades. They face a good bowling unit but Pakistan's batsmen have a bigger challenge - that they don't end up becoming their own biggest threat.
Form guide

Sri Lanka WWLLL (Completed games, most recent first)
Pakistan LLWWL

Watch out for...
When he first began making a mark as an opener, Mohammad Hafeez's problem was that he squandered good starts, playing a false shot after settling in well. On this tour so far, he's struggled to get even the starts, with three ducks, two of them consecutive. His offspinners have been economical, but he isn't doing justice to the sound technique and solidity he usually offers with the bat.
Upul Tharanga has had a quiet series so far, with scores of 10, 18 and 4. He's just as much in need of a push; if picked tomorrow, he'll play his 150th ODI.
Team news
Sajeewa Weerakoon will think he's done enough to retain his place in the XI, picking up 1 for 49 with his left-arm spin. Sri Lanka could remain unchanged.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Sajeewa Weerakoon.
Umar Gul received treatment on the ring finger of his right hand during the fourth ODI. He was impressive at the start, but faltered in the batting Powerplay. For reasons of injury, or otherwise, Pakistan have Mohammad Sami to fall back on; he's recovering from a thumb injury himself.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Umar Gul/Mohammad Sami, 11 Saeed Ajmal.
Stats and trivia
  • This year has been an expensive one for Umar Gul in ODIs. He's taken 15 wickets at 35.06 - his worst in a year - and has gone for 5.71 an over. His worst year, in terms of economy-rate, was 2010, when he went for 6.25 an over.
  • Among players who've scored more than 2500 runs in ODI cricket and not scored a single century, Misbah-ul-Haq has the highest average - 42.30

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