About the Match
What does a team do after losing 10 matches in a row as Sri Lanka has? They seem to have exhausted their pool of players and none of the replacements really stood up either. They are up against Pakistan, a team that has lost only one match in their last 10, is the current Champions Trophy winner, and has won the series 3-0.
Can anything stop another 5-0 scoreline for the Sri Lankans?
A comprehensive win in the third ODI gave Pakistan the series and plenty of positives to build on for the future as well. This victory was in many ways their most comprehensive yet. The bowlers rallied after a positive start from the Sri Lankans to hold them to a below par total and the batsmen then chased it down with ease.
Imam Ul Haq was a controversial pick in the squad because of his uncle being the chief selector. He may have had to warm the sidelines had Ahmed Shahzad taken his chances but his poor form allowed Haq to make his debut.
As things turned out, Imam Ul Haq became only the second Pakistani ever to score a century on ODI debut and led his team to a victory. He was a little nervous to start with and certainly needs to work on his fitness but there is definite talent which Pakistan will look to profit from in the future.
Pakistan will hope that with Babar Azam solid at 3, Fakhar Zaman making the opening position his own and now the emergence of Imam Ul Haq, they may be on the cusp of a new batting renaissance in their cricket.
The Pakistani dominance over the Sri Lankans can also be gauged from the fact that their best bowler, Mohammad Amir, has barely been missed in this series. Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, and SHadab Khan are all undoubtedly world class, while Rumman Raees is not the worst either.
Hasan Ali just broke the long-standing record held by Waqar Younis to be the fastest to reach 50 wickets for his country and is growing in venom with every game.
This current Pakistan winning streak stands at 7 and it is hard to see them lose any game at the moment.
A complete and abject surrender by the Sri Lankan batsmen was very hard to stomach especially after the fine start their openers had provided. Dinesh Chandimal has received a lot of flack from the fans for putting a complete break on scoring and we feel that a lot of it is well deserved.
Upul Tharanga was in complete command of the game up until the first 10 overs but he too went into his shell and the middle order of Kapugedera, Thirimanne, and Siriwardana just does not have the numbers to make any opposition nervous.
Kusal Mendis was left out of this team after a few poor knocks and we cannot help but disagree completely with that move. He has been hailed as the future of Sri Lankan batting, has a few breathtaking knocks to his name, and there is no one else quite frankly to replace him at the moment.
To take his position at 3 and give it to Dinesh Chandimal, who was dropped from the ODI side just a little while back and is in as bad a run of form as Kusal Mendis is just insane.
Pakistan just needs to stop Upul Tharanga from getting runs and the rest of the batting just folds over. Niroshan DIckwella is also guilty of getting starts but not carrying on. If Sri Lanka has to have any chance of breaking their losing streak in Sharjah then both of these batsmen must score big runs.
The rapid fall of Sri Lankan ODI cricket can also be highlighted by their complete lack of any bowling resources. It is not as if Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dananjaya, and Gamage have not produced memorable spells but it is their lack of consistency,
Their shoulders seemed to drop immediately after the first few overs in the last game and not a single bowler threatened the Pakistani batsmen in the entire game. It is almost as if they were resigned to waiting for mistakes when they knew that a couple of quick wickets could have shifted the complexion of the game.
There is very little that we can see as being positive for Sri Lanka at the moment and they just have to hope for classic Pakistani unpredictability to win one match in the series.
Pitch and Conditions
Almost all the surfaces in the UAE are the same and will present the batsmen with little challenge. The bounce will be low, pace off the pitch very comfortable, and offer some assistance to the spinners. Dew could be a problem for the side bowling second though.
Every single factor seems to be stacked in favor of Pakistan at the moment including some excellent form to build on. Sharjah has been one of the traditional Pakistani strongholds and they will definitely be better suited to the conditions.
Unless something dramatic happens, we cannot see Pakistan losing.
Pakistan to win