Pakistan has won the 1st ODI match agiants Sri Lanka and will be looking to extend their dominance against Sri Lanka when the two sides clash in Pallekele on Saturday. The hosts on the other hand have plenty to do to surge back into contention.
The rain-affected first ODI went to Pakistan by six wickets as their bowlers capitalized on the favorable seam conditions, with both Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami picking up three wickets each. In addition, Mohammad Hafeez bowled brilliantly and the team overall boasts of a strong bowling attack with Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal at their disposal.
Misbah ul Haq, the captain, will however be worried by the 31 extras they conceded including 23 wides. The batsmen, while not severely tested, will know their areas of improvement as well. Younis Khan will play under mounting pressure after another failure that stretched his run to 16 matches including only two half-centuries.
It was an embarrassing day at work for Sri Lanka who just could not get going despite desperate attempts. Unfortunately for them, it is the third time in a row that they have capitulated while batting, a trouble that hasn’t gone away since the end of the World Cup last year.
Only Lahiru Thirimanne was able to offer some resistance in his innings of 42 while the experienced batsmen such as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were undone by beautiful bowling. Tillakaratne Dilshan will need to put a high price tag to his wicket after being guilty of recklessly throwing his wicket away.
The bowlers did try to make a fight out of the match but were unable to do so due to the small total on board. The team overall will be looking to life their game in order to give themselves a chance of avenging their series loss to Pakistan in UAE last year.
The match will be played in Pallekele where Pakistan now have two wins from three matches, their only defeat being in the World Cup match against New Zealand.
Pakistan have won 9 of the last 11 ODIs against Sri Lanka and the main reason for that is that the team has performed as an unit. The bowlers are specially to thank for that as they have been pretty consistent in their endeavours, not letting the Lankan batsmen to dictate terms to them. A quality line up with the likes of Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez is no doubt a tough proposition for the opposition, but these bowlers have never let down the steam and have rendered one successful performance after another. The opening ODI also saw a similar showing with regular bowlers like Gul and Hafeez shining with the ball. But what the selectors would have been most pleased about is the performance of Mohammad Sami, who returned to ODI cricket with a bang, coming up with a commendable effort with the ball. The skipper will be counting on the bowlers to continue their good showing throughout the series.
Umar Gul has the most number of ODI wickets at Pallekele. He has picked up nine wickets in three matches. (Gul’s bowling figures – Ave: 10.22. SR: 17.7. Econ: 3.45). In 5 matches played at Pallekele so far, only twice has a total in excess of 200 been achieved. On both occasions, it was by the team batting first and they went past 300.
Pakistan’s track record in the last six months against us has been pretty good and it was up to us to try and change that: Mahela Jayawardene following the loss in the opening ODI.
We have to improve in these conditions – it’s a windy and open ground. It’s difficult to judge, so we have to work hard: Misbah ul Haq wants a better performance from his batters.