It’s, as soon as extra, that point of the Asia Cup once more. One match away from the match that by no means occurs. For years, a long time, even, the prospect of an India-Pakistan closing has teased and tantalised, however remained simply out of grasp, leaving the 2 giants of the subcontinent sportingly and commercially unsatiated. And for many of that point, it’s the facet Pakistan face tomorrow – Sri Lanka – that has proudly performed spoilsport, planting their flag firmly between India and Pakistan, cementing their standing as an Asian mainstay. Simply twice within the 39-year historical past of the ODI model of this match have Sri Lanka didn’t make it to the trophy match, and within the video games that matter on this match over time, Sri Lanka often prevail.
Sri Lanka seem the extra settled facet at current; their loss to India was the primary in 14 matches courting again to June. Regardless of being injury-ravaged earlier than the match – Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera’s absences had been hammer blows – the replacements have proved stellar. The infant-faced 20-year-old left arm spinner Wellalage is the joint-highest wicket-taker of the match with 9 at a median of 14.66. Quick bowler Matheesha Pathirana is one wicket behind, and Maheesh Theekshana only one additional adrift. Sadeera Samarawickrama and Kusal Mendis have shone with the bat at occasions throughout this match, although not fairly in opposition to bowling of Pakistan’s high quality.
Pakistan actually simply want to attract a line underneath the India recreation and hold their eyes on Sunday’s prize. A beneficial outcome within the India-Sri Lanka recreation means Thursday is now a digital semi-final for each side, and one sturdy efficiency will give them the prospect to make amends for all of it within the closing. Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani do not fairly boast the identical risk as Pakistan’s premier fast-bowling trio, however two of them can be paired with Shaheen Afridi. Shadab Khan, who had an detached recreation in opposition to India, will try to draw inspiration from the success of Sri Lanka’s spinners, who took all ten wickets in opposition to India. Pakistan’s batting, which hasn’t been examined sufficient and crumpled underneath strain in opposition to India, remains to be closely reliant on the highest three. This can be rejigged on Thursday, with Pakistan leaving out Fakhar Zaman, and the brand new mixture will want shoulders broad sufficient to bear the burden.
Sri Lanka LWWWW (final 5 accomplished ODI, most up-to-date first)
Within the highlight
Folks may deride the ODI center overs, however Charith Asalanka loves them. Extra T20 cricket has meant real middle-order, middle-overs specialists within the 50-over format are exhausting to return by, however in Asalanka, Sri Lanka have the most effective. Since he made his debut, no batter who is available in at quantity 5 or decrease has scored extra runs within the format than his 1199, they usually come at a median only a shade underneath 45. In opposition to a Pakistan bowling unit who’ve struggled conspicuously on this part, Asalanka could possibly be kryptonite. Of their final three matches, Pakistan’s bowlers went wicketless from the fifteenth to the thirty eighth overs, the tenth to the thirtieth overs, and the 18th onwards, respectively. Merely put, he’s at his strongest when Pakistan are at their weakest.
It is regarding sufficient that Pakistan are overreliant on their high three with out certainly one of them going off the boil. Lower than 5 months in the past, Fakhar Zaman plundered New Zealand throughout Karachi and Rawalpindi, scoring centuries in three successive matches. However there has all the time been a feast-or-famine vibe to his kind, and since then, the desert has stretched out throughout the oasis. A median of lower than 21 and a strike fee underneath 80 have seen Pakistan determine to make a change and herald Mohammad Haris on the high of the order. Haris’ personal explosiveness when the sector is up is well-established by now, however most of his success has are available T20 cricket. Whether or not he can adapt his recreation to the longer format and go simply as exhausting on the high stays to be seen, however in a doubtlessly low-scoring match, it might go an extended technique to figuring out success or failure for Pakistan.
Sri Lanka ought to look to stay to the mixture that just about introduced them success in opposition to India, and adjustments are unlikely.
Sri Lanka (potential): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dasun Shanka (capt), 8 Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Matheesha Pathirana.
Pakistan have made 4 adjustments, with Fakhar lacking out after a run of unhealthy kind. Mohammad Haris takes his place. The reduce Salman Ali Agha suffered beneath the attention retains him out too, with Saud Shakeel taking his place. The 2 pressured fast-bowling adjustments see Mohammad Wasim and Zaman Khan begin.
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Haris, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam (capt), 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Mohammad Wasim, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Zaman Khan.
Pitch and circumstances
There are showers forecast on Thursday, as there have been for nearly each day in Colombo, although sufficient of a break between them to get loads of cricket in.
Stats and trivia
- Sri Lanka have reached 11 Asia Cup finals, considerably greater than both India (9) or Pakistan (5).
- Pakistan have gained every of their final eight accomplished ODIs in opposition to Sri Lanka.
Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000