About the Match
Pakistan won the ODI series 3-2 against Sri Lanka last week and now they face each other in a 3-match Test series, with the first one starting on Dec 31st at Abu Dhabi. Having won just one ODI till the last match of the ODI series, Sri Lanka bounced back into the series by winning the 5th and last ODI against Pakistan by 2 wickets that has brought the team better confidence and a positive attitude, going into the Test series. Both sides have a lot of plus points suited for the Test format and they will definitely fight it out tooth and nail in the upcoming matches to take the title home.
The series against Sri Lanka has seen a tremendous improvement in the batting performance, especially by Mohammad Hafeez who made huge scores and contributed to their series win. Others like Ahmed Shehzad and Sohaib Maqsood have also played well; bowlers Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul have been consistently taking wickets to take the team to a comfortable position in many matches recently and will be heavily relied upon in the Tests as well. Hafeez with his all-rounder skills can also provide the required breaks with the ball and Misbah will look to make good use of youngsters like Mohammad Talha, Rahat Ali and Shan Masood and experienced players like Abdur Rehman, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Khurram Manzoor. Overall, the team is a formidable force to reckon with and they will give the islanders a tough time in the upcoming matches.
The team has hardly played test matches this year, with the last one being against Bangladesh in March and this will be their first match against a top nation in almost a year. However, the players are confident that resources like Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Rangana Herath and Angelo Mathews will provide the required guidance to the young team. In the last ODI, Dinesh Chandimal scored a brilliant unbeaten 64 off 70 deliveries and partnered with Mendis to take the team home to a comfortable win. He will be a great asset in the upcoming test matches and will be eager to continue with his winning form. Bowlers like Suranga Lakmal and Perera found success against Pakistan in the one-day games and will look to repeat their skills in the tests as well; Herath too has a good record against the opponents and along with Senanayake and Kulasekara will try to provide the impetus to the bowling unit. It needs to be seen if Sri Lanka can rise up to the expectations and deliver with their talent and skills.
Both sides have equally established players who have the experience and skills to win matches for their team; while Sri Lanka goes into the Test series with a boosted morale, Pakistan has witnessed a resurgence of its batting prowess and bowling has been sharper too. The match could see many ups and downs and while it will surely be a thriller, Pakistan looks better placed to win the first match.
Pakistan, 2.37 @ William Hill