About the Match
Pakistan’s 9-year wait for a series win in Sri Lanka came to an end with an incredible record chase in the 3rd test, which has taken them to the third place in ICC test rankings. They will now be upbeat about the 5-match ODI series and two T20Is against the hosts, with the first ODI to be held on 11th July at Dambulla. Although Sri Lanka dominated the visitors in the second test, Pakistan has continued to play with determination. It will be an action-packed contest with players from both sides being in good form and we can only expect some fireworks on the field in this shorter form of the game.
Angelo Mathews will lead the side from the front; his special 122 in the second innings of the last test was a good sign and he will be raring to go in the ODIs too. Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal have been in good nick with the bat and are sturdy middle-order batsmen. Tillakaratne Dilshan, who can turn around the match in their favour with his hard-hitting tactics, will definitely be an edge to the side.
Bowlers Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Senanayake and Prasanna bring variety to the attack and will surely try to use the home conditions to outwit the Pakistani batsmen. They have plenty of all-rounders in Thisara Perera, Priyanjan, Thirimanne, Dilshan and the captain himself, who can perform well with both bat and ball to deliver results.
Overall, this unit is well-balanced with established batsmen and outstanding bowlers; they have suffered a test series defeat and will be eager to bounce back with an ODI series win, starting with a win on Saturday.
Although Younis Khan’s expertise and Misbah’s leadership skills will be absent in the ODI series, the team has many capable youngsters who have time and again proved themselves. Azhar Ali will captain the side and is a strong top-order batsman, who can combine well with players like Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq in the middle. The batting line-up looks good and they can definitely come out all guns blazing provided they can keep the wickets from falling quickly against the Sri Lankan tactics.
Yasir Shah, who took a 7-wicket haul in the 3rd test and Rahat Ali, who picked up 5 wickets, are in the bowling squad and will definitely fire from all cylinders to keep the vantage point; Mohammad Irfan, who can terrorize the opponent with his pace, surely brings immense experience too. Bilal Asif, Babar Azam, Anwar Ali, Ehsan Adil and Mukhtar Ahmed bring variety and depth to the attack.
If the Pakistani batsmen can build a strong foundation and restrain from giving away their wickets easily, then this is definitely a formidable force to reckon with.
While Pakistan is flying high with confidence and will try to convert the morale boost from the test series win, to victory here, we feel that Sri Lanka with specialist bowlers and the home advantage will win the first match on Saturday.