Pakistan lead the five-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka 1-0 after a nervy 11-run win in the first match. Mohammad Hafeez scored a cracking century to guide Pakistan to a confortable score above the 300 mark, and despite a valiant effort from the Sri Lankan tail-enders, the Lankans couldn’t get over the line.
Pakistan batted first, scoring an imposing 322-5 from their 50 overs. Opener Sharjeel Khan hit three sixes in his run-a-ball 61 to get things going, with Sohaib Maqsood clearing the boundary rope four times in his aggressive 73, which came from 68 balls. The star of the Pakistan innings was undoubtedly Mohammad Hafeez, who scored a brilliantly composed 122 from 129 balls—hitting seven fours and four sixes to steer his team towards their impressive total. The runs flowing at the top of the order will please skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who must have been disappointed at the lack of runs from his top-order batsmen, particularly in the tour of West Indies earlier this year. The Pakistani captain will also take heart from a spirited display from his pace attack, particularly Junaid Khan who was the star of the Pakistan bowling attack, claiming 3-44 from his 5.4 overs. Shahid Afridi pitched in with two wickets.
Sri Lanka on the other hand won’t be too displeased with their efforts on wednesday night. Although they go one-down in the series, Sri Lanka will take heart from their performance in Sharjah. They would surely not have conceded so many had they included Nuwan Kulasekara instead of the expensive Suranga Lakmal, who could find himself being left out in favor fo teh senior pro Kulasekara. Malinga’s opening spell was threatening, finding uncharacteristic away swing. If they tighten up this aspect of their game, their batting lineup is more than capable of chasing and setting high targets. Kuamr Sangakkara chipped in with an impressive 44 in the 2nd T2O, and they will need him to come to the fore and produce a sparkling performance. Also the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Matthews need to put a price tag on their wicket, and convert their starts into big knocks.
The main concerns for Pakistan would be their death bowling, and their poor fielding. They were sloppy in the field in the 1st ODI, and nearly let Sri Lanka come back into the game after being in a comfortable position. The Pakistani attack did well to limit Sri Lanka to 221/7 in the 42nd over on a track that offered little for the bowlers, but let the game get away from them in the end with a combination of poor bowling and fielding.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will need to improve on their bowling. The attack isn’t inexperienced, but their bowlers were very expensive. Only one, Seekkuge Prasanna, managed to keep his economy rate under five. Pakistan’s bowlers were more effective, but it was perhaps Misbah-ul-Haq’s use of his bowlers that nearly cost his side the victory. Despite Shahid Afridi doing well with the ball, picking up two wickets and keeping the scoring rate tight, he still somehow finished the game with three overs to spare. Instead of using Afridi in a holding role, something which he has been good at over the last few months, Misbah opted for some of his less experienced charges.
The conditions are likely to remain relatively same, but the pitch in Dubai is expected to be livelier and offer a bit more to the bowlers, but given the strength of the two batting line-ups, expect another high-scoring encounter.
Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Second ODI preview
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