With the series well & truly decided in favor of Pakistan heading into this final game, Sri Lanka find themselves purely playing for pride as they look to avoid a series whitewash, but the signs look extremely ominous.
The question Pakistan will be asking themselves is have we been challenged in this five-match series at all with a match to come? Well, no disrespect to Sri Lanka, but it’s been a pretty tame four ODI’s that haven’t exactly been blockbusters, the visitors have hardly put up a fight which is a recipe for disaster on foreign soil. There’s been an array of positives to come out of the four matches for Pakistan though, we’ve seen Babar Azam back to his best with the willow, Hasan Ali producing some brilliance with the ball and a star being unheralded on the International stage with a century on debut. I could sit here and just discuss how many players have chipped in with solid performances over the series yada yada yada, the truth of the matter is that Pakistan are heavyweights compared to this depleted Sri Lankan outfit that lacks in a lot of areas of the game. I hate to say it, but it’s been like a walk in the park for the men in green, the likes of Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan in particular have been relentless with the ball which has led to some downhills slides. The opposition is struggling to bat out their full fifty overs at the moment where as Pakistan are chasing down Sri Lanka’s total with a couple wickets down, this has been a series that has been so one-sided that you would have mistaken Pakistan’s opponent for an under 19’s side. There’s no doubt in my mind that Pakistan are going in for the kill as they target a whitewash ahead of the upcoming T20 series, a couple more big scores from Pakistan’s top four or five batsmen and some big hauls in the wickets department from their bowlers would be the icing on the cake in what has been a stunning display of cricket.
There will be some serious soul searching after this tour for Sri Lanka, you’d expect this type of performance from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, but not this country. Life after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene is looking somewhat-bleak, their batting continues to crumble no matter how much they jumble the order with some questionable selections being thrown into the deep end as well. Positives almost don’t exist in this current series, Pakistan have completely outplayed them in all four matches which has left barely any breathing space for a standout performer in this team. Only Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne have posted reasonable scores on the board in a couple games each, apart from that it’s been a gloomy-series overshadowed by failure to compete. It’s gotten to the point where they can do anything they want to the team, it’s not going to solve anything, the problem clearly lies internally which is resulting in some poor performances on-field. Sri Lanka’s bowlers haven’t done a horrible job, they just lack a star bowler like Lasith Malinga who has even lost a bit of his polish with the ball over the years. Don’t get me wrong, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage and Thisara Perera have done quite a reasonable job in the series, but the consistency to back it up isn’t there at the moment. Players like Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis have been really disappointing for them, these are two batsmen that Sri Lanka heavily-rely on to give them a sizable total. Brace yourselves for a Pakistan whitewash, unless Sri Lanka can pull a rabbit out of their hat it’s a sure thing.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Pakistan | 5th ODI | Sharjah
- Hasan Ali
- Babar Azam
- Shadab Khan
- Imad Wasim
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sri Lanka | 5th ODI | Sharjah
- Lahiru Thirimanne
- Upul Tharanga
- Thisara Perera
- Suranga Lakmal
- Niroshan Dickwella
Team News | Pakistan
Pakistan are in a position where they can experiment with their starting XI, Haris Sohail is yet to play a game in the series so it will be interesting to see if they decide to include him in the fifth & final match. Ahmed Shehzad could return in place of Fakhar Zaman who hasn’t exactly found form in the series so far, other than that Pakistan may choose to keep majority of the side that played in Sharjah a couple days ago.
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Imam-ul-Haq 2. Fakhar Zaman/Ahmed Shehzad 3. Babar Azam 4. Mohammad Hafeez/Haris Sohail 5. Shoaib Malik 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk) 7. Imad Wasim 8. Shadab Khan 9. Hasan Ali 10. Usman Khan 11. Junaid Khan.
Team News | Sri Lanka
The visitors could welcome back Kusal Mendis after yet another flimsy-batting display, that could push Sadeera Samarawickrama out of the side despite just being included in the last match. Milinda Siriwardana has been in appalling form, but given that Sri Lanka have persisted with him for the entirety of the series so far, it seems unlikely he’ll be axed which just about sums up their time in the U.A.E.
Sri Lanka (possible) – 1. Niroshan Dickwella (wk) 2. Upul Tharanga (c) 3. Kusal Mendis 4. Dinesh Chandimal 5. Lahiru Thirimanne 6. Milinda Siriwardana 7. Seekkuge Prasanna 8. Thisara Perera 9. Akila Dananjaya 10. Suranga Lakmal 11. Lahiru Gamage.