Cementing eighth spot: Pakistan look to clinch series against Sri Lanka

The hosts are 2-1 up and go into the clash with their tails up after a 135-run win.

Our Correspondent July 21, 2015
Mohammad Rizwan fields the ball acrobatically in training. Pakistan have been a much improved fielding unit of late, with both Rizwan and Anwar Ali standing out with some excellent catches and ground fielding. PHOTO: AFP


Pakistan and hosts Sri Lanka will square off in the fourth ODI on Wednesday with the visitors looking to wrap up the series, which will improve their chances of qualifying for the ICC Champions Trophy.

The tourists will be all the more confident after recording a convincing 135-run win in the third ODI at the same venue to regain the lead in the series.

Predictions of heavy thunderstorms loom ominously over the match but with a reserve day allocated for each match, it is more than likely that a result will be obtained.

The toss will also play a pivotal part in the ultimate outcome of the match, with history significantly favouring those who bat first at the R Premadasa Stadium.

Of the 117 ODIs played at the ground, the team batting first has gone on to win 65 of them, triumphing in 55.5% of the matches. On the other hand, the side batting second had only managed to reach the target 44 times, a win-ratio of 37.6%. The remaining eight matches yielded no results. Sri Lanka is also the only cricket-playing nation in the world where a target of 300 hasn’t been chased down.

Former cricket Basit Ali also feels that the team that will win the toss will win the match. “For me it’s really simple, the team that wins the toss and bats first will have the last laugh,” Basit told The Express Tribune. “It’s really difficult to chase at the R Premadasa because the pitch slows down and it’s hard for batsmen to use the pace of the bowlers. The batsmen will struggle to play horizontal shots, especially when cutting the ball, so bowlers can easily cut down scoring opportunities.”

Basit also urged the top-order batsmen to not throw their wickets after getting set and instead capitalise on their starts by looking to score a century.

“In the previous match, Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfraz Ahmed all had the chance to score centuries but couldn’t convert their good starts,” said the former Test batsman. “They should ensure that once they are in on such a flat track, they go on to make a big score.”

Pakistan are set to name an unchanged side for the fourth one-dayer after the decision to bring in Imad Wasim for Babar Azam and promoting Sarfraz up the order paid off.

The decision has seemingly improved Pakistan in both departments as Imad is a handy all-rounder and, along with Anwar Ali, provides flexibility to the side.

Pakistan have been trying to groom all-rounders to improve the balance of the team, which was once again disturbed by the bowling ban imposed on Hafeez, with Shoaib Malik trying to fill the void. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd,  2015.

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