2nd T20 preview: Pakistan eye revenge against Sri Lanka
Pakistan will look to square series against Sri Lanka in the shortest format of the game before the 5 ODIs begin. Hosts Sri Lanka though are not likely to give in to the challenge and will battle it out on Sunday to go into the 50-over format as the team with the psychological advantage.
Pakistan landed in Sri Lanka with a new captain and a new coaching set-up. But then some old problems returned to trouble them. In the tour opener, the Pakistan batsmen squandered a good opportunity to take a lead in the two-match series. On Sunday, they can at best aim to square the series.
Pakistan have enough ability and experience in their ranks to bounce back and level the series. For that to happen though, the batsmen will need to play a tighter game and rotate the strike more often - they played out 60 dot balls in their innings and crawled to 23 during the Powerplay overs.
Pakistan's bowlers were steady until the last few overs. However, the decision to play Mohammad Sami in the XI did raise a few questions. Players like Yasir Arafat and Hammad Azam, who are only part of the Twenty20 squad, could have been tested ahead of Sami, who has also been picked for the five-match ODI series.
Sri Lanka didn't play a great game, but were just a notch better - Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews made the difference. Sri Lanka's top-order trio which sporadically fired in the IPL, failed on Friday night. However, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are as good as any in world cricket and if they can find some form, the talented middle order can put Pakistan under pressure on a slow pitch.
After a thumping win, Sri Lanka chose to stay away from practice on Saturday, while the Pakistan team trained in the evening. The match is expected to draw better crowds on Sunday as Monday is a public holiday in Sri Lanka.
Players to watch
Angelo Mathews had a forgettable IPL season with Pune Warriors. But he did bowl regularly in the tournament, his injury concerns taking a back seat. That experience seemed to help as Mathews bowled a mean spell on Friday. One of the most talented allrounders around, Mathews would look to translate his bowling success to his batting.
Like Mathews, Pakistan's Umar Akmal oozes talent. In the last year, though, he has lost his place in the Test team. But with his hard-hitting and technically-sound batting style, he continues to be a dangerous player in the shorter formats.
Pakistan's three allrounders - Hafeez, Afridi and Shoaib Malik - are more than handy given the conditions in Sri Lanka and with Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal being automatic choices, Pakistan could consider going for a batsman.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Umar Akmal, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Khalid Latif/Haris Sohail, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Shakeel Ansar (wk), 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Mohammad Sami/Hammad Azam/Yasir Arafat, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Saeed Ajmal.
Sri Lanka may field the same XI that won on Friday.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Dinesh Chandimal, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Thisara Perera, 7 Lahiru Thirimanne, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Kaushal Lokuarachchi, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11. Sachithra Senanayake.