Pakistan will look to heap more misery on Sri Lanka when the sides meet in the second T20 International in Abu Dhabi on Sunday 29 October 2017.
Pakistan were not as convincing as usual, but wrapped up series victory in Abu Dhabi regardless – and now have the opportunity to clinch a whitewash to match the one achieved in the ODI series against the same opposition.
Sri Lanka were within touching distance of a rare victory in Thursday’s low-scorer – and will be determined to salvage something from an otherwise doomed limited-overs leg on Sunday.
Pakistan v Sri Lanka | Sunday, 29 October | Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore | 15:00
To Win Match
Pakistan 26/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 3/1
The hosts will quickly want to return to the status quo, whereby one batsman sticks around for a substantial period – and others bat around him. This wasn’t at all the case in the second T20I, with Sarfaz Ahmed’s 28 and Ahmed Shehzad’s 27 as good as it got. Babar Azam, in particular, must shake off a couple of low scores with a big contribution in Lahore.
Thisara Perera was entirely effective earlier this week, mixing cutters with other slower balls – and occasional outright pace. The Pakistani batsmen need to find a away to successfully negotiate these sorts of variations, which will almost certainly line Sri Lanka’s approach with the ball on Sunday.
Faheem Ashraf is a real find – and just the tonic required for some fresh support for Hasan Ali. Ashraf’s medium pace worked well – and he will welcome another chance to display his Test credentials too. At just 23 years old, Ashraf should find himself in the Test XI sooner rather than later.
Pakistan have won four of their five T20Is at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Sunday will bring another showcase of cricket in the country, which is gradually recovering from 2009’s attack on the touring Sri Lankans’ team bus. The weekend, then, will hold a historical sensitivity to the match.
Sri Lanka found someone to dig in for a half-century, but then lacked support for Danushka Gunathilaka in the second T20I. Batsmen four through eight, in fact, managed a mere 11 runs between them. That can’t happen again. Mahela Udawatte needs to justify his position in the middle order, after two poor scores.
The tourists batted first in the opening matches of this series, but might want to do so second after looking at the record books at this venue. The only team to beat Pakistan in a T20I in Lahore are the World XI, who chased down a staunch target in September. Pakistan’s collective ability with the ball was tested then – and largely failed.
Sri Lanka have a lot to work with in their current XI – and shouldn’t make any tweaks. Granted, the presence of Upul Tharanga and Lasith Malinga would have helped a lot, but that’s water under the bridge. They have to win with the personnel willing to travel to Lahore – and put the demons of the past behind them.
Bowling-wise, the combination of Isuru Udana and Sachith Pathirana through the middle overs will be key. The trick will be to not get smacked around the park and limit being milked for six or seven an over. Intriguing, too, will be whether or not Dilshan Munaweera opens the batting and the bowling again – a rare sight in international cricket.
Verdict: Pakistan 26/100
Sri Lanka will hope to put the severe inadequacies experienced in the United Arab Emirates to bed with a consolation win, but Pakistan’s dominance will likely continue.