Fight for lead moves to Colombo
Having drawn level in the series with a comprehensive 21-point victory over Pakistan, the confident hosts would be looking to take the lead in the 5-match ODI series when they meet Pakistan in the third ODI at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.
The first ODI saw the Lankan batting order flop miserably having posted just 135 on the board and this led to their downfall as they lost out by 17 points on Index. A much better performance was expected in the 2nd, and the batsmen, led by Tillakaratne Dilshan, stepped up to the occasion and posted a competitive 280 on the board. A change in batting order seemed to have worked as the openers performed much better and skipper Mahela Jayawardena, who dropped himself to No.5, too scored a half-century.
Dinesh Chandimal showed glimpses of the talent he possesses but needs to improve his temperament. Dilshan was splendid with his strokeplay. Kumar Sangakkara missed out again and his poor form is the biggest worry for the hosts. He needs to fire big time now. If in case he fires, the Pakistanis would be will be struggling big time following a poor bowling display in the 2nd ODI.
They had a new hero in the bowling department, Thisara Perera, who 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. Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga have performed exceptionally well with some disciplined bowling in the Quick Start as well as Extreme Performance Overs. Kulasekara, in particular, has troubled the batsmen with his mix of inswingers and outswingers.
Their bowling has been effective, it’s their batting that needs to be consistent. Rangana Herath has been rested for the rest of the series and another left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon takes his place in the squad. But there are chances that Sachithra Senanayake will take place of Herath in the starting eleven. Perera, who achieved the best Index(78) in the last match along with Dilshan will be the biggest threats for Pakistan.
Pakistan, on the other hand, after a good bowling effort in the 1st ODI lost the plot in the second, conceding 280 runs. it seemed that the absence of Mohammad Sami who missed out due to injury hurt them badly as their pacers flopped. The spinners did a decent job of containing the batsmen but couldn’t pick up wickets. Pakistan would be hoping that Sami would get fit in time for the 3rd ODI. A much better and consistent bowling performance is the need of the hour.
In the batting department, apart from Azhar Ali, none of the batsmen looked confident. Younus Khan needs to get back to form as soon as possible. Umar Akmal showed glimpses of class in the 1st ODI but the major problem with him is lack of temperament and consistency. He needs to take up the responsibility and deliver the goods which might do justice to his “talented” tag. They seemed to crumble under pressure of chasing. A much more calm and composed approach is the need of the hour. Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq will be the biggest threats for Sri Lanka.
Both the teams are locked at 1-1. Sri Lanka will be relieved and looking to gain more confidence, while Pakistan would be quickly looking to bounce back and make sure they don’t allow the Lions to take a lead for the first time in the series. A cracker of a contest is definitely on cards.