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Can Pakistan keep the momentum going?

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Last Updated on 7 years by Charbel Coorey

Preview: 2nd ODI – Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi

Pakistan are flying. Seven ODI wins out of their last eight has the hosts in a really good place – a place that hasn’t been associated with Pakistan for a long time in ODI cricket.

Pakistan were said to be stuck in 80s. Not able to come to terms with how ODI cricket has changed. But, Pakistan have done the most Pakistan thing ever and did what no one thought possible – win a Champions Trophy Title and turn their ODI form around completely.

Sarfraz Ahmed has this team playing well. He’s had his critics, but surely what he’s doing for this ODI side deserves praise. Attacking by nature, he has instilled a positive attitude into this Pakistan unit.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have lost all of their last eight ODIs. Only the West Indies (18%) have a worse win rate than Sri Lanka’s 19% in 2017, and the Lions face a big ask in turning their fortunes around in Abu Dhabi.

To make matters worse, there are rumours that Dinesh Chandimal is suffering from a knee injury. Who will step up for the Sri Lankans?

Key to a Pakistan win:

Pakistan’s bowlers were just too good for Sri Lanka in the 1st ODI.
What’s special about this Pakistan attack is how they can get the ball talking even in unfriendly conditions. Dubai is a flat pitch and the pitches in the Champions Trophy were flat, but these bowlers are brilliant.
Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali represent a strong pace attack. Add to that the accurate Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim and the question begs – how serious a challenge can Sri Lanka provide?
Pakistan will win if they can continue their impressive run with the ball. Their batting can just flow on from that.

Key to a Sri Lanka win:

Regular wickets with the ball.
As much as I’ve been talking up Pakistan here, the hosts are still prone to the odd collapse or two. Despite Sri Lanka yet to settle on a bowling lineup, their best chance is picking up wickets in the middle overs and halting Pakistan’s progress.
Much of Sri Lanka’s struggles in 2017 have been due to their inability to take wickets in the middle overs. This has to change if they are to win here.

Who has to step up?

For Pakistan, it has to be Ahmed Shehzad
In his last 10 ODIs, Shehzad has scored 169 runs at 16.90. The out of form opener fell for a 12-ball duck in the series opener, and needs a score here to ease the pressure.
For Sri Lanka, it is a close call between Thisara Perera and Kusal Mendis.
I’ll go with Mendis.
Apart from a century vs India in Colombo, the talented Sri Lankan’s highest score in the last two months is 36. Sri Lanka are down on the mat, and with all the hype surrounding him back home in SL, he needs to help pick his side up.
Possible teams:

Pakistan: 1. Ahmed Shahzad 2. Fakhar Zaman 3. Babar Azam, 4. Shoaib Malik, 5. Mohammad Hafeex, 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 7. Imad Wasim, 8. Rumman Raees, 9. Shadab Khan, 10. Hasan Ali, 11. Junaid Khan

Sri Lanka: 1. Niroshan Dickwella (wk) 2. Upul Tharanga (c) 3. Kusal Mendis 4. Lahiru Thirimanne, 5. Dinesh Chandimal 6. Milinda Siriwardana 7. Thisara Perera 8. Suranga Lakmal 9. Akila Dananjaya 10. Jeffrey Vandersay 11. Lahiru Gamage

Stats & Facts:

  • Since 2015, Shoaib Malik has scored 1,356 ODI runs at an average of 54.24.
  • Babar Azam averages 55.64 in ODIs and just 23.75 in Tests.
  • Hasan Ali is just 5 wickets away from reaching 50 ODI wickets. He averages 18.97 with the ball in 2017, with 34 wickets.
  • Sri Lanka have lost eight ODIs in a row, and have only won one match in 2017 against a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe (India in Champions Trophy).
  • Sri Lanka have won just 1 of 12 when batting first. SL average 47.31 with the ball, which is the worst by any team in a calendar year in ODI history (min. 20 ODIs).
Will this match go the way the 1st ODI did? Or will Sri Lanka put up a better fight?
All the signs point to another Pakistan win to go 2-0 up.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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