The visitors first knocked out Sri Lanka in the three-Test series, and then they outclassed the hosts in the five-game ODI series. The tour is already Pakistan’s most fruitful trip to Sri Lanka since 2006, and today, they will have a shot at sweeping the trophies. The visitors were always likely to fare well against the younger Sri Lanka players, but it is their dominance of Sri Lanka’s big names that has defined the tour.
Rangana Herath was defused in the Tests, where Kumar Sangakkara was also muzzled. Lasith Malinga has so far been dismantled across two formats, and even Angelo Mathews’ usually-prolific limited-overs batting has been quieted. Pakistan will be encouraged that they have done all this with a somewhat inexperienced side.
Continuing with their winning streak, Shahid Afridi and his men won the first T20 game against Lasith Malinga-captained Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Now the pumped-up Pakistan — given the manner they have fared so far on the tour — can surely end the tour with victory on Saturday.
The tourists’ top-order batting has been brilliant and has done the bulk of the scoring, which took the pressure off their middle-order batsmen who could play their natural-cum-aggressive game.
Shahid Afridi now arrives at the final skirmish with a batting order in excellent touch, a bowling unit churning out wickets, and by a distance the better fielding side in the series.
Sri Lanka’s opening combination seems to be where much of their hope for an upset lies. If Kusal Perera fires as he did at Pallekele and Hambantota, Sri Lanka are capable of mounting a large total. The lower middle order has been consistently strong in the limited-overs matches as well, and now seems to have been bolstered by the return of Chamara Kapugedara, who on Thursday provided glimpses of the player Sri Lanka wanted him to become for so many years.
SRI LANKA: Lasith Malinga (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kithruwan Vithanage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Kulasekara, Binura Fernando, Chaturanga de Silva, Milinda Siriwardene.
PAKISTAN: Shahid Afridi (captain), Sarfraz Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Mukhtar Ahmed, Nauman Anwar, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Shah, Imad Wasim, Zia-ul-Haq.