Pakistan have lived up to their 'unpredictables' tag so far in this World Cup, getting blown away by the West Indies but landing a blow back against England
Now, they would want to be nice and predictable in collecting two more points against a weak Sri Lanka. Can they?
Mint tells you what to look out for in game 11 of the tournament.
Pakistan’s pace attack is firing...
Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq’s last minute induction of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz into the World Cup squad has turned out to be a masterstroke. Amir’s seam movement off a good length and Riaz’s scrappy pace accounted for five English wickets, sinking the favourites. The only disappointment was Hassan Ali, the man of the tournament in the 2017 Champions Trophy. He appears to have lost a yard of pace. Pakistan may want to bring on one of their young speedsters in the reserves—the tall Shaheen Afridi or the pacy Mohammad Hasnain.
...so is Sri Lanka’s
Sri Lanka went into their second game with five pacers. The move paid off as they managed to defend 201 against Afghanistan. Lasith Malinga pulled out some vintage yorkers to close out the match. But it was Nuwan Pradeep who turned the game around with the wicket of the dangerous looking opener Hazratullah Zazai—courtesy a a brilliant catch by Thisara Perera. Perera chipped in with a wicket as well. Suranga Lakmal was pacy, too, while Isuru Udana provided variation with left-arm seam.
The spin advantage
Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan and off-spinners Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez took out four of the top five England batsmen. This gives them an edge over Sri Lanka, who have come into the tournament with no spinner of note. That’s rather strange after seeing Muttiah Muralitharan leading their attack for so many years. Leggie Akila Dananjaya, who had taken 48 wickets since the 2017 Champions Trophy, was excluded from the squad.
Hit straight, reap rewards
Bristol, the venue of the SL-Pak match, is one of the smallest grounds in England. The boundaries at both ends are short, so bowlers can be hit straight back over their heads when they pitch it up. Spinners, in particular, are vulnerable. That might encourage the Lankan batsmen to have a go against the Pakistan spinners.
Sri Lanka’s middle order must click
Sri Lanka’s new ODI captain and opener, Dimuth Karunaratne, has been anchoring the innings while the other opener, Kusal Perera, has been getting runs at a good clip. But former captain Angelo Mathews needs to take more responsibility in the middle order, which has collapsed in both games. All-rounder Perera, too, is experienced enough to not gift his wicket away again, like he did against Afghanistan with a run-out. Sri Lanka’s middle-order, ultimately, will have to wake up if they want to score their first ever World Cup win over Pakistan.
Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.