It must be a strange feeling to be Sarfaraz Ahmed right now. After his team experienced a humiliation by the West Indies in their first World Cup outing, he had people questioning his fitness and role in the team.
However, after a win against favourites England, the same set of people have raised Pakistan above their heads and are now celebrating them as “cornered tigers.” Cricket, life has been a great leveler for them, indeed. The team has already faced a see-saw campaign so far, as they gear up against Sri Lanka on Friday.
For Sri Lanka, nothing much could further be said after their win against Afghanistan was looked upon as an upset of sorts. It was only fitting that the game ended with Lasith Malinga nailing a perfect yorker, his go-to weapon for more than a decade. Malinga would be aware that he needs to continue leading the bowling attack and has a similar leadership role to guide his more or less inexperienced side.
As a limited overs batsman, Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne is still taking his early strides, while their experienced campaigner Angelo Mathews doesn’t seem to be able to find his rhythm and form. It is their batting that has let them down on both the occasions. And if it wasn’t for their bowling performance, it could have easily been two defeats against their name.
The only thing comforting for Sri Lanka is the fact that Pakistan too is coming from a similar background in the World Cup – a big defeat and then a victory. However, Pakistan’s victory came against World Cup favourites England and their batting did step up when the going was tough.
Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir along with Wahab Riaz have shown glimpses of their prime form and as far as their batting is concerned, each of their top five batsmen contributed significantly against England.
However, rain gods may play spoilsport here on Friday as there is a high probability that it might rain on the Bristol County Ground during the scheduled time of play.
Leaving that aside, this might be a big game for Angelo Mathews as he hasn’t troubled the scorers in this World Cup at all, lasting less than a dozen balls in two games. With every failure, the pressure and nerves will get to him and against Pakistan, Sri Lanka will hope that he returns to form.
Mohammad Amir is expected to lead the Pakistan pace attack after already picking up four important wickets in the tournament. In overcast conditions, swing of the Pakistan left-arm seamer can be very difficult to negotiate.
If the weather allows a full game at the Bristol County Ground, this would make for another interesting World Cup match.
The match is scheduled to begin from 3:00 pm (IST).
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c/wk), Asif Ali, BabarAzam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis (wk), Jeevan Mendis Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay