Relieved Lankans aim for the lead
After a disappointing washout in the 3rd ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo with just 6.2 overs bowled, the fight for the lead moves on to the 4th ODI as a confident Lankan side locks horns with Pakistan at the same venue.
Incessant rains made sure that the 3rd ODI was abandoned leaving the fans disappointed to the core. The series is leveled 1-1 with two games to go now. After having outclassed the hosts in the 1st ODI by 17 points on the Index, the visitors lost the plot in the 2nd match and lost out by a heavy margin of 21 points. It seemed as if their confidence was badly affected as after winning the toss and batting first, they got off to a horrible start in the 3rd ODI. They lost both their openers in the first six overs and were reeling at 12/2 before the play was called off due to rain. Their batting has been the main concern so far, even in the 1st ODI, while chasing a mediocre target of 135, they stuttered at the start before Umar Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq came to the rescue late in the match.
It was their bowlers who disappointed in the 2nd ODI conceding 280 runs and picking up just four wickets. The batsmen followed suit as apart from Azhar Ali, none of them clicked. Their top order has been inconsistent. Mohammad Hafeez has the temperament and the talent and a better effort will be required from him having failed in the last two ODIs. Azhar Ali had a great outing in the 2nd ODI but misses out in the third. The middle and lower order too need to step up and deliver. Umar Akmal has been touted as the next big thing in Pakistan cricket but he lacks temperament and consistency.
Their main strength is bowling. They seem to be missing the services of Mohammad Sami who has made a spectacular comeback to the international scene. He didn’t take part in the 2nd and 3rd matches due to injury and Pakistan would be hoping that he gets back as soon as possible. The team had high expectations from Saeed Ajmal on the wicket-taking front but the off-spinner has disappointed so far. A much better all-round performance is expected this time around. They might go in with an extra batsman in this match too. Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq will be the biggest threats for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, were relieved to get a win under their belt in the 2nd match following a horror form in the ODIs. Their struggling batting order finally clicked. There are still some areas of concerns as their talisman Kumar Sangakkara has been in poor form of late. He needs to fire big time now. Dinesh Chandimal looked ominous in the 2nd ODI but just like Akmal, he needs to be patient and consistent. Their bowlers have done an exceptional job so far. Nuwan Kulasekara has troubled the batsmen with his dicey movements either ways. A welcome bonus for the host was the performance of Thisara Perera in the 2nd game. He ripped through the visitors’ batting line-up, picking up 6 wickets to achieve the best Bowling Efficiency of 266. With his big hitting capabilities down the order, he is turning out to be a world-class all-rounder. Having had the initial push in the tournament, they need to capitalize on Pakistan’s weaknesses and perform consistently from now on. Perera along with Dilshan will be the biggest threats for Pakistan.
There has been reserved days kept aside as heavy rains are predicted for the last two ODIs. With two games to go, both the teams would be looking to gain the upper hand by taking the lead, which in turn will ensure that a series loss is out of equation. Pakistan would be looking to improve, while the Lions would be looking to continue their momentum. A cracker of a contest is definitely on cards.