Pakistan and Sri Lanka will take on each other in the final match of the Super 4 phase of the ongoing Asia Cup in Dubai on Friday (September 9).
With both teams already in the final, this match has become a dead rubber. But a win here will help either team with confidence and momentum going into the tournament final.
Pakistan’s middle-order needs to step up
Pakistan were very lucky to win their last encounter against Afghanistan. Had it not been Naseem Shah’s unbelievable back-to-back sixes in the final over, the match had gone out of Pakistan’s reach totally and they had lost 9 wickets already by then. This has presented the reality in front of them ahead of the final.
They have been dependent a lot on contributions from Mohammad Rizwan throughout this tournament. The middle-order batters have played small cameos but Rizwan has been the glue that has held their batting line-up together. However, Pakistan need to prepare their middle-order batters mentally to finish off matches, so that they can step up when the top-order fails. Apart from that, they are pretty much strong and balanced in every other area and they will be looking to deliver a strong performance in this match once again.
Sri Lanka need to keep believing
The Lankan team has improved a lot since their crushing defeat to Afghanistan in their opening match of the tournament. They have dished out commanding performances in each and every match since then. Dasun Shanaka and his men have been particularly clinical in this Super 4 phase as they have chased down high targets against both India and Afghanistan without any fuss.
The entire team is high on confidence after their strong show in the last two matches and will be looking forward to continuing that in this contest against Pakistan. Skillswise, their players do not lack anything. It was just the confidence and big match experience that was holding them back. All they need to do is to just keep believing in themselves now.
Babar Azam and his men are coming into this match on the back of three consecutive wins. They have won against Hong Kong, India and Afghanistan after starting the tournament with a loss against India.
Like Pakistan, Sri Lanka are also coming into this game having won their last three matches. Since their defeat to Afghanistan in the group stage, Sri Lanka have won matches against Bangladesh, Afghanistan and India.
Possible Playing XIs
Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Naseem Shah
Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Charith Asalanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka
Players to Watch
The Pakistan all-rounder has delivered consistent performances with both bat and ball in this tournament. It was adjudged the Player of the Match in their thrilling win against Sri Lanka as he scored 36 off 26 balls and bowled a tight spell of 4-0-27-1 as well.
Overall, Shadab has picked up 7 wickets so far at an average of 12.14 and a mean economy rate of 5.79. With the bat, he has amassed 46 runs in two innings.
The top-order batter has shown a rich vein of form in this tournament. Mendis is Sri Lanka’s highest run-scorer in this tournament so far, with 155 runs to his name at an average of 38.75 and an outstanding strike-rate of 159.79.
Mendis has scored two fifties as well, one of which came in the Super 4 clash against India. The other one came in their must-win clash against Bangladesh in the group stage.
Sri Lanka have played with a lot of confidence and belief so far, and will be motivated to do well in this match once again. On the other hand, Pakistan are working like a well-oiled machine and they have better all-round depth than Sri Lanka. Add that to the experience gap between the two teams and it gives Pakistan the edge in this contest.