Pakistan will look to seal the series against Sri Lanka when the two sides meet in the fourth ODI at Dubai on Sunday, November 20. Sri Lanka on the other side will try to win this match to level the series and take this series to final match, which would be a decider. Pakistan won the third match of the series to go 2-1 up after the two teams had shared the first two games. Despite a late collapse, Pakistan did enough to get to their score of 257 as they managed to bowl Sri Lanka out for 236, seven balls before the stipulated 50 overs. Luck was certainly not shining on the Sri Lankans in Dubai on Friday as they looked to have things under control in pursuit of 258 for victory until Kumar Sangakkara was run out and skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan was bowled off his arm while attempting a sweep. But they say you make your own luck in sport and the way that Pakistan stuck to their task proves that they are developing a decent team spirit and some backbone under veteran skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
Even though, Pakistan’s batting collapsed after a brilliant 151 run opening partnership, the bowlers were up to the task of defending the middling total. Going by their recent performances, they have one of the most varied attacks with excellent new ball bowlers like Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Tanvir and two tricky spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. Throw in the mix the off-spin of Hafeez and Abdul Razzaq’s useful medium pace and they have a complete bowling line-up. The Pakistan slow bowlers know just how to bowl in the UAE conditions and are not just containing batsmen but taking wickets, which is the best way to slow down a run-rate in any form of the game. But credit must also be given to the way their batting unit – something that has rarely been seen from a Pakistani side of the recent past. Different batsmen have put their hands up in the course of the series and led them to more than reasonable scores, even as the Sri Lankan batting has looked feeble.
Talking about the Sri Lankan batting, the big guns have not fired in unison for a long time now. As a result, match-wining positions have been surrendered, with even the experienced batsmen failing to deliver under pressure. Sri Lankan batting has to turn things around sooner than later otherwise their number three ranking in one-dayers is going to be a thing of past. Sri Lanka now need to win the fourth ODI to stay alive in the series. They seemed to have done most things right in the previous game but lacked the finishing punch. The form is too patchy for the Sri Lankan batters for them to pose a real challenge. The youngsters in the side, like Dinesh Chandimal and Jeevan Mendis will need their time under the sun before they can be expected to take up the real challenge and with the seniors showing average form in the year gone by, things are looking tough for the visitors. Among bowlers, Lasith Malinga has shown what he is capable of but only in patches and rest of the bowlers proved themselves expensive. With the series on line in the fourth ODI, Sri Lanka would most certainly try some new faces.
Match Timings: Nov 20, 2011 (15:00 local | 11:00 GMT | 16:30 IST)
Pakistan (Squad): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Abdul Razzaq, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema/Junaid Khan.
Sri Lanka (Squad): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Seekkuge Prasanna, 11 Dilhara Fernando.