About the Match
Sri Lanka will approach the last ODI of their series against Pakistan facing their third whitewash of the year. South Africa was expected to pummel them in alien conditions, India proved too difficult to handle at home but it is this capitulation against Pakistan that will hurt them the most.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has shown that their win in the Champions Trophy was no fluke and that they have the nucleus of a very successful ODI side.
Pakistan has bounced back from the defeat in the test series in the most emphatic manner possible and is now on the verge of a 5-0 scoreline.
They have, in fact, gotten better as the series has gone on and will be looking at reinforcing the gains they have made in this series. Chief among them is the emergence of Imam ul Haq at the top of the order and a bowling attack that their captain believes in the best in the world.
Hasan Ali has grown in confidence and is at the top of the of the rankings in ODI cricket while Shadab Khan is proving a mystery that is difficult for some seasoned campaigners to unravel.
That being said, Imam ul Haq and Fakhar Zaman will quickly realize that international cricket is a tough school and a good inning will only get them so far before the pressure to deliver again piles down on them.
Both of them would want to bank another good inning in a match where they have nothing to lose before they come up against tougher opposition in their careers.
Mohammad Hafeez will also be under some pressure to score runs, especially now that his bowling has been reported for chucking once again.
Overall, this Pakistan team has everything going for it and plenty of talent to be able to overcome any small hiccups. It is in the middle of one of those phases where everything they touch turns to gold against an opposition that can seem to do no right.
11 matches lost in a row and another clean sweep looming is probably a worst case scenario that few Sri Lankan fans would have imagined a year back. The speed of this deterioration in form and lack of competitiveness has been startling and now Sri Lanka looks to be worse off than all of its Asian neighbors.
With a test championship and an ODI league looming not too far ahead, the Sri Lankans need to start rejuvenating this team at the earliest.
For the time being though it is difficult to see what changes can be made to the team for the final ODI. If there was some untried talent or some upcoming player then he would have got a chance by now.
As things stand, the Sri Lankans will hope that the same set of players is able to pull off something special in the last match.
They do have some capable players who could win a match on their own like Niroshan DIckwella, Kusal Mendia or Akila Dananjaya but betting on that happening would require a very brave individual.
The Sri Lankan players look jaded, tired, and keen to get this series over with. They are lacking fight and the courage to try new things against an opposition that is coming at them all the time.
There is nothing that suggests this will be the match where Sri Lanka breaks its losing streak. The odds that one of the Sri Lankan players will come good is growing with each match but whether that will be enough to win them the match is questionable.
Pitch and Conditions
The pitch at Sharjah will be a throwback to old subcontinental wickets where run-scoring was often labored and accumulative rather than adrenaline fuelled. Scores of 250-260 should be considered competitive.
There is almost no chance of rain and we should see an uninterrupted match.
Pakistan to win