Sri Lanka vs Pakistan | Saturday 01 August | Colombo | 15:30
And so Pakistan’s successful tour of Sri Lanka ends with a final twenty-over thrash-about. Pakistan have had the better of the hosts all tour but Sri Lanka have fought admirably, ensuring both the Test series and ODIs went down to the wire. The Test series went down to a third-match decider while the ODIs ended 3-2 in favour of the tourists. Pakistan are already 1-0 up in the two-match T20 series and will be intent on ending the tour on a positive note.
To Win Match
Sri Lanka 1/1
The hosts lost the first T20 by 29 runs, making it their seventh defeat in eight T20s played at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Current World T20 champions and ranked number one in the format by the ICC, the first T20 was only the second played by Sri Lanka since winning the title last year. Lasith Malinga has taken substantial personal responsibility for the opening loss, his figures the worst among a young Sri Lankan attack. He has lost pace as the result of an injury he has been battling for the better part of a year and has struggled to land his trademark yorkers in recent times. With his accuracy shot, even the eternally self-confident Malinga has admitted that his place in the side is in doubt with his current form. Despite Sri Lanka conceding 175, it was a target within their reach should their batsmen come to the party. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka’s chase was derailed early with the loss of Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kithuruwan Vithanage in the first four overs. Although the lower-order fought and brought some respectability back to the innings, it was to no avail. Additionally, silly mistakes made in the field by a young crop of Sri Lankan T20 talent saw opportunities go abegging. Of the youngsters, Jeffrey Vandersay impressed. His sleight of hand trickery continues a proud history of unorthodox Sri Lankan spinners.
Pakistan’s innings contained scores of 46 by each of Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal and their total of 175/5 from their allotted twenty overs was never really threatened by Sri Lanka. Shehzad got Pakistan off to a rollicking start before Malik and Akmal combined for a fourth-wicket charge that helped the tourists take control of the match. Sohail Tanvir was the chief destroyer with the new ball, recording figures of 3/29 in his four overs and removing Dilshan and Vithanage early. He returned to claim the important wicket of Siriwardana, a dangerous Sri Lankan youngster who had just taken 35 runs from eighteen balls. Pakistan will be extremely pleased with their performances in Sri Lanka having recently lost an ODI to Bangladesh. They will certainly fancy their chances of recording their third series victory of the tour with another T20 win in Colombo.
As mentioned previously, Sri Lanka have lost seven of their eight T20 internationals played in Colombo. What is even more interesting is that aside from the first T20 against India in 2009, Sri Lanka have lost all of the contests when batting second. Their solitary win at the ground, against Pakistan in the 2012 World T20 semi-final, came when batting first. It seems clear that the toss will play an important part in the outcome of this match. A small amount of rain is predicted but it shouldn’t have much effect on proceedings.
VERDICT: Pakistan 8/10
As illustrated, batting first could prove an important part of winning here. Without any knowledge of what side will be setting a total it is difficult to pick a match winner. However, based on their performances on the tour so far and the more settled nature of their side, I’m tipping the tourists to come out on top yet again. Sri Lanka are young but crucially their experienced players are out of form. Back Pakistan at a tempting 8/10.