About the Match
The first T20 game turned out to be a continuation of the same theme that we witnessed in the ODI’s as Pakistan proved too good for a listless Sri Lankan team. There is no time for the visitors to sit back and regroup as the second T20 comes at them without any break whatsoever. Things look dire for Sri Lanka but the T20 format lends itself to some spectacular upsets so there may be some hope for Sri Lankan fans yet.
Not for a single moment in the first ODI did it look like Pakistan was stretched or put under pressure. Not when they had to bowl first, not when the Sri Lankan batsmen started to go aggressively against their bowlers, and not when they lost a couple of early wickets in the chase. It was almost as if Pakistan knew that there was nothing they could do to lose this match.
We knew that a depleted Sri Lankan side would have trouble combating a full-strength Pakistan side but even the most ardent of Pakistani supporters would not have expected this contest to be so much of a mismatch.
The Pakistani bowlers were too good for the Sri Lankan batsmen that were constantly late on their shots, struggling to cope with the pace, and struggling to read the spin. Hasan Ali, who has been in spectacular form this season, could have bowled in his sleep and taken the same number of wickets.
His confidence is so high at the moment and his skill levels so developed that we would easily back him to be the highest wicket-taker in this next match again.
Supporting Ali with the fast bowling duties was Usman Khan who once again hurried batsmen with his pace. We are not sure of the longevity of Usman Khan and think that he might struggle against better batting lineups but for the time being he is good enough to run through this Sri Lankan side with ease.
The spinners including Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, and Imad Wasim were all on point and clearly a handful for the Sri Lankan batsmen. We can easily see this bowling attack dominate the Sri Lankan in the upcoming T20 as well.
The Pakistani batting did not have to do much in this match, however, it would be heartening for their supporters to see Mohammad Hafeez score some fluent runs. Shoaib Malik once again reiterated his usefulness to this side with some quick runs after Babar Azam got out cheaply as well.
This batting lineup could be tested if they are facing a total in excess of 170 or 180 but that is highly unlikely to happen here.
This nightmare tour for Sri Lanka continued as they failed to put a fight once again in the first T20. The manner of these defeats is only getting more emphatic and a poor run of form has now officially transcended into an absolute train wreck.
Was there anything else that was expected from a severely depleted Sri Lankan team? Strange selection tactics, strange tactics on the ground, and a team that looked resigned to lose as it stepped out on the ground are all very worrying things for Sri Lankan cricket.
The Sri Lankan batsmen tried to go hard at the Pakistani batsmen but it was not a matter of controlled aggression what was on display. It was, instead, something like panic and trying to score as many runs as possible before getting out.
The intent to be aggressive was not matched by any control over the shots being attempted and this predictably resulted in a collapse. Even 102 looked hard to get at one point in time. What was most baffling was to see skipper Thisara Perera, the most experienced T20 player in this team by far, come in at number 9 when the game was all but over!
Why on earth would he do that and what he was trying to achieve is beyond our understanding.
The two batsmen in this line up that can probably put up a stiff fight against the Pakistani bowlers are Gunathilaka and Munaweera but they need to give themselves some time before going on the offensive. Losing these two wickets early is going to spell curtains for a team that resembles a club team rather than a seasoned international side.
It is bilateral contests like these where there is no context to winning or losing and very little competition between the two sides that is driving the ICC to incorporate the league structure in world cricket.
The little bowling that was seen by the Sri Lankans also left no doubt that this is a team that will struggle to be anywhere near competitive to Pakistan in this series. Seven bowlers were tried by Perera in a short span of time, none of which had any impact. Sanjaya and Pathirana were the only two wicket-takers but even those seemed more the batsmen’s fault rather than anything special done by the bowlers.
Pitch and Conditions
Back to back matches on the same ground are likely to result in a slower pitch that will make run-scoring difficult. We think that 140-150 is an excellent total on this ground and can be defended with some energetic bowling.
The weather is expected to be clear for the match.
Pakistan to wi