Pakistan and Sri Lanka shared the spoils in the recently concluded T20 series. After having won the 1st match, Pakistan lent themselves down with their bowling and conceded a mammoth 211-3 from 20 overs, and the Sri Lankans stuck to their task to claim victory and level the series 1-1.
Outside of World Cup competitions, ODI series often hold very little relevance. With a World Cup about 14 months away, all series now have a little bit more to them. Teams need to finalise their squads, find their best XI and make sure their backup players can step up to the plate when it matters.
Pakistan have shown against South Africa recently that they have a really solid group of players who, despite still blowing hot and cold, can perform when it matters and pull them out of tough situations. Pakistan’s 2-1 win over Sputh Africa in the recently concluded series and their win in the one-off T20 against Afghanistan suggests that their squad has the right balance and experience in the conditions in the UAE. And in Saeed Ajmal, they have a weapon which is capable of knocking over the best of batsmen.
Sri Lanka have just had an indifferent series against New Zealand with a mixed bag of results, winning one, losing one and having another game rained out. Both sides play a unique brand of cricket that can be as nerve-wracking as they are exciting. The Sri Lankan top-order batsmen came into some much needed good form in the previous T20 match against Pakistan, and their death bowling will please skipper Angelo Matthews.
The pitch at Sharjah tends to be a rather flat surface which favours the batsmen. With no rain around and sun to bake the pitch, there should be big runs on offer for both teams. The slow and dry nature of the surface is expected to bring the spnners into play, and Pakistan will look at their strike bowler Ajmal to again produce the goods. However, Pakistan will have to work on the indifferent form of some of their top-order batsmen, who have struggled to produce consistent performances, which puts unnecessary pressure on the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi in the middle order.
But Pakistan will go into the match as slight favorites, because of their greater acquaintance to these conditions.