Will SL win its first WC tie versus Pak on Feb 26?

Posted by:
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, 8:57 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

Will SL win its first WC tie vs Pak?

Colombo, Feb 25: Contests rarely get more intense than those between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the one-day arena. At 117 encounters played between these two sides, they have seen a fair bit of each another. But come Saturday, Feb 26, Sri Lanka will be wary of the fact that Pakistan leads them by 70 wins to 46 in the overall head-to-head and by a staggering 6:0 in World Cups. Will this weekend mark the time when Sri Lanka reverses history and breaks the jinx?

The Sinhalese have a lot going for them. Since the last World Cup, they have beaten Pakistan 8 times and lost on 5 occasions. In that period, they were defeated in the May 2007 series in Pakistan 1-2, but came back to win the subsequent two series 2-1 in Jan 2009 and 3-2 in July-Aug the same year. Sri Lanka howEver, didn't play Pakistan last year at all and considering the the latter's side has undergone an upheaval of sorts in terms of its composition, they might be in for a confrontation with a relatively new-look team.

The last time these two sides met in a one-day fixture, Sri Lanka won by a mere 16 runs, accentuating how evenly matched they are. It was during the Asia Cup when Sri Lanka posted a barely competitive 242 with Angelo Mathews making 55 off 61 balls and Jayawardene 54 off 64 balls while Shoiab Akhtar took 3/41 before the Lankans resticted Pakistan to 226 all out. And despite Shahid Afridi's defiant 109 off just 76 balls, Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga prevailed with 5/34 to take Lanka home.

In the batting department, individual performances for Sri Lanka have been far more robust than for Pakistan. Since May 1, 2007, Lankan opener Tillkaratne Dilshan has the highest batting average against Pakistan at 72.75 from 2 innings. But the second best batsman against these opponents - captain Kumar Sangakkara has been more prolific, notching up an average of 56.00 from 4 encounters.

Then comes Pakistan's Shoiab Malik with an average of 50.83 from 3 innings, but he hasn't made it to the World Cup squad, so Sri Lanka won't have to be hounded by this nemesis. He is followed by his team-mate Umar Akmal, with an average of 47.00 from 2 innings. Rounding off the top seven batsman in head-to-head encounters is Shahid Afridi who bears an average of 41.60 from 5 encounters, followed by Mahela Jayawardene, whose average is 41.50 from 4 innings.

Umar Gul comes out tops in the bowling charts in the recent encounters between Paksitan and Sri Lanka, taking a total of 15 wickets from 5 matches at an average of 16.50, while Lanka's own pace spearhead Nuwan Kulasekara comes in second with 12 scalps from 7 matches at an average of 20.00. Other noteworthy bowlers have been Lasith Malinga with an average of just 7.00, albeit from only one match, Dilhara Fernando with 18.20 from 2 matches, Thilan Thushara with 25.83 from 3 matches and the old off-spinner war-horse Muttiah Muralitharan with 25.16 from 3 matches.

The key men for Sri Lanka on Saturday will definitely be Jayawardene and Sangakkarra, fresh from their 100 and 92 respectively, against Canada at Hambatota on Sunday, while for Paksitan it will be Ahmed Shehzad and Misbah-ul-Haq, each of who bear averages of over 60 in their warm-up matches. Among the Sri Lankan bowlers, Malinga and Kulasekara will be the men to watch out for, while Pakistan's debutant Junaid Kahn and Wahab Riaz who each took 3 wickets against England in their warm-up match, might also prove to be pivotal figures.

So, a thrilling match is on the cards for Saturday. Can Sri Lanka continue its winning form against Pakistan and claim victory in its first World Cup match against these opponents?

Oneindia Cricket

Write Comments