Deadline: October 2, 2019 at 3:30 PM IST
Venue: National Stadium, Karachi
The curators made sure the crowd enjoys ODI cricket’s return to Karachi. Runs came thick and fast during the day, and fast bowlers rocked batsmen with under the flood lights. The pitch had every recipe of a mouth-watering contest. Expect nothing less on Wednesday.
Probable XI for Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c & wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari
Probable XI for Sri Lanka: Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Wanidu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep
NOTE: Pick your fantasy cricket team wisely
Players to watch out for
Champions rise to the occasion, and Babar Azam could not have timed his 11th hundred better. It was an amalgamation of flair, panache, and aggression. Sri Lanka did not particularly bowl bad – there wasn’t much they could have done anyway – but Babar Azam manufactured extraordinary shots despite fielders being placed at the boundary line. Another three-figure score should seal the deal for Pakistan.
Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq gave the start Pakistan had demanded for. If anything, their 73-run partnership laid the foundation for a Babar Azam special. However, Fakhar Zaman would have been disappointed on missing a certain hundred.
The match would have wrapped up in the early evening. Pakistan had reduced Sri Lanka to 28 for 5. What followed, however, was spectacular. Shehan Jayasuirya and Dasun Shanaka added 137 runs, creating minutest of hope for the Sri Lankan fans. But Usman Shinwari, the Player of the Match, brought Pakistan back in the game and dismissed Jayasuriya for 96. Shadab Khan then got the better of Shanaka (68) and Wanidu Hasaranga (30), putting the last nail in the coffin. Before Hasaranga swung his bat hard, he had dismissed both Pakistani openers and caught Babar Azam in the deep.
Shinwari’s five-wicket haul on Monday was his second in three matches against Sri Lanka.
All is not lost for Sri Lanka. They have a chance of, at least, levelling the series. Sri Lanka may have travelled with a second-string side, but they fought tooth and nail despite being dominated at crucial phases. Toss will be important. The pitch gets slow in the second innings, and if Sri Lanka put up a reasonable total, they might as well have Pakistan under pressure.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c & wk), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari, Iftikhar Ahmed, Abid Ali
Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Wanidu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Kumara