Deadline: June 7, 2019 at 3 PM IST
Venue: County Ground, Bristol
Pitch and conditions
At Bristol, in a warm-up match against New Zealand, West Indies sniped as many as 421 runs. Shai Hopes scored a hundred and Andre Russell then added more salt to New Zealand’s wound with a late blitz of 54 runs off 25 balls.
Last week, when Australia and Afghanistan locked horns to play their first match of the 2019 World Cup, the pitch looked similar. Although Afghanistan managed a mere 208 runs, they took only 38.2 overs to collect them against a quality bowling attack of Australia.
Expect runs to come thick and fast on Friday. Make your fantasy cricket team by knowing the statistics.
Probable XI for Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir
Probable XI for Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep
Head-to-head in World Cup
Pakistan (7) – Sri Lanka (0)
Pakistan high on confidence
Both teams made amends in their second games after losing their openers, but Pakistan’s win came against the favourites England compared to Sri Lanka’s narrow win against Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka are nowhere close to being favourites, let alone being dark horses. On the other hand, you never know which Pakistan team will turn up: the one that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory or the one that smashes any team to pulp on their day. That said, Sri Lankan pacers looked threatening. If there’s the slightest of lateral movement and they get their lines and lengths right, Pakistan will struggle to score runs at will. We witnessed how West Indies dismantled the Australian batters with pace and swing the other day.
Mohammad Hafeez’s 62-ball 84 changed the complexion of the game against England. He took the crease when Pakistan were 111 for 2 in 20.1 overs. He could have taken his time to settle in, but instead decided to take on England. The ploy worked and Pakistan posted a target that was beyond England’s reach.
Before Hafeez took Australia apart, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq had played steady innings of 44 and 36 respectively. The openers made sure they don’t let the middle order exposed to the new ball. And then, there always is the class-apart Babar Azam. He has scores of 22 and 63 thus far and isn’t far away from a resolute hundred.
Mohammad Amir has been Pakistan’s pick of the bowlers. He followed his three-wicket haul with a two-for on flat track, and more importantly, he dismissed the dangerous Jos Buttler at a crucial juncture. However, it was Wahab Riaz who stole the limelight. His two wickets in the 48th over sealed the match for Pakistan.
Sri Lanka do not have too many top performers, but if anyone who deserves a special mention, then it is Kusal Perera. His brave innings of 78 in tough batting conditions will remain one of the top highlights of the World Cup. Among bowlers, Nuwan Pradeep was at his brutal best, picking 4 for 31 in 9 overs. He reduced Afghanistan from 44 for 2 to 57 for 5.