About the Match
Pakistan shrugged off their test match losses to easily beat Sri Lanka in the first ODI and will now look to continue their good form in the rest of the series. A terrible performance by the Sri Lankan bowlers, something that has been happening too regularly, set up this loss for the visitors. Do they have the resilience in their team to bounce back quickly?
The Pakistani victory was headlined by a fantastic innings from Babar Azam and some much-needed impetus provided by Shoaib Malik. Babar Azam just had a terrible test series but back to his favored format he just eased his way to yet another ODI hundred.
His consistency in scoring hundreds is remarkable and puts him in the company of the finest young ODI batsmen of the world.
Shoaib Malik has been playing T20 cricket around the world for some years now and it seems to have done him a world of good. He is as fit as any of the youngsters in this Pakistani side and seems to be able to provide the power hitting down the order very effectively.
He is the most important player in this Pakistani team according to us and if he can continue to play like the way he did in the first match then it will go a long way in solidifying Pakistan’s hold on this series.
Of course, Pakistan has not had a ton of ODI success in the UAE. They have lost four out of their last five series and are known to be extremely inconsistent over short periods of time.
Everything worked for Pakistan in the first match, though, including their bowling. Always their stronger suit, they are particularly adept when defending a decent total. The fact that they managed to blow away the Sri Lankan batting while missing Mohammad Amir is not going to go unnoticed.
Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, and Hasan Ali form a very potent seam bowling attack and are backed up by the likes of Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, and even Shoaib Malik very effectively.
This an ODI team with some glaring weaknesses in terms of fitness, fielding, death bowling against quality batsman and a lack of firepower but still seem to be in a better position than their opponents.
Nothing that the Sri Lankans managed to achieve in the test matches seemed to stand for anything as they capitulated meekly in the first game. Sri Lanka has now lost their last 8 ODI games and is having its worst ODI year ever.
The chief reason for the Sri Lankan fall in performance has been their lack of bowling skill. Lasith Malinga has disappeared from the radar and with him seems to have disappeared the last world-class talent currently available to the island nation.
Not a single bowler looked effective or likely to take the wickets. Everyone kept giving loose balls and freebies to the batsmen on a regular basis. Sri Lanka also does not have the batting talent to be able to make up for their lack of bowling resources which means that they are currently very beatable.
For Sri Lanka to reverse the trend and win a match in this series the Sri Lankan batsmen will have to score a mountain of runs and then hope that the Pakistani batting crumbles under the pressure. Of course, doing this is easier said than done considering the bowling talent available to Pakistan.
Still, if any hope must be remaining with the Sri Lankan supporters then it will be with regard to their batsmen like DIckwella, Chandimal, and Kusal Mendis.
We think Sri Lanka has a good chance of winning this match even though they have lost their last 8 matches on the trot. Let us not forget that they thrashed Pakistan soundly in the test matches just a week or so ago and have successfully put up big scores relatively consistently this year.
They should also benefit from the inconsistency of their opposition which has not yet cracked the ODI code.
Pitch and Conditions
A flat, sluggish surface is likely to be available to the teams for this match. Rain is not a factor although the heat will be a significant factor to contend with. Scores of around 270 should be considered par for the course.
We think Sri Lanka will reverse its losing streak and register their first win of the ODI series.
Sri Lanka to win.