The latter part of the double header in the ICC Cricket World Cup on Tuesday comes from Hyderabad where two Asian teams continue their competition when Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in a key game for both sides.
Pakistan were comfortable winners of their opening match of the tournament while Sri Lanka felt the full force of the South African batting in their first game so they need to show some character and bounce back here.
When you consider all the issues that the Pakistan team have faced ahead of the tournament in terms of late visas and everything else, they will be delighted that they were able to get out onto the field and open up their campaign with a win. They were expected to see off the Netherlands in their first game but they had little to gain and everything to lose so to overcome that potential issue should bode well for them here.
There is no getting away from the fact that it wasn’t the best performance that Pakistan will ever put in. Given those issues mentioned it probably never was going to be. Their top order got the team into a bit of a hole which thankfully for them the middle order was able to get them out of. The bowlers then did their job and got the team over the line. You would imagine Pakistan will come on for the run but they might need to.
It was a disastrous start to the tournament for a Sri Lanka side who were hoping to come here as a dark horse for the competition. They saw their bowling plundered to all parts and while it was to their credit that they batted well and put up the second highest score in the event so far in reply, it wasn’t enough and that has left them needing to rebound with a more positive all-round performance over the course of this game.
The problem Sri Lanka have going into this match is that their bowling was decimated going into the tournament with key injuries stopping them from having four key bowlers available to them so the last thing they needed was those bowlers who are in the squad to have their confidence shot to pieces. The positive is that they showed they can deliver with the bat but it certainly is a concern at how they will go with the ball.
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Most people are waiting for Pakistan to pull the trigger on the out of form Fakhar Zaman and it will be interesting to see if the chop comes for him here. Abdullah Shafique would be a readymade replacement in what might be the only change.
The good news for Sri Lanka heading into this game is that they have Maheesh Theekshana available for this one. He is certain to come in after the shambles of the first match. Kasun Rajitha or Dilshan Madushanka would be the one to make way.
This is the second match in as many days in Hyderabad and watching the coverage of the game between New Zealand and the Netherlands on Monday there didn’t appear to be another pitch prepared for this game and even if there is, this will be the third match here in five days on an exposed square so I’m expecting anything but a free scoring game which is full of runs, even allowing for that poor Sri Lanka bowling display in Delhi on Saturday.
The boundaries here are a lot bigger than they are in Delhi which will help Sri Lanka, as will the return to Maheesh Theekshana. Pakistan only hit three sixes in their innings against the Netherlands on this ground on Friday and Sri Lanka are not exactly blessed with six hitters, especially against a top Pakistan bowling unit. With the pitch likely to be slow and potentially taking some turn this feels like a match where big hitting will be difficult so 11.5 sixes might be out of reach here.
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