Sri Lankan cricket has made a habit of reaching new lows in the ODI format recently. The team fell to another loss, their fourth one now, this time losing by 7 wickets. They managed a meagre 173 in the first innings owing to yet another batting collapse, a standard feature throughout the tour. Pakistan took their time with the chase, showing no signs of a rush, clinching the target in 39 overs.
Their standards lowering with every passing match, it is not surprising that half their team does not want to tour Pakistan for the last T20 to extend this misery. Are the security concerns this disconcerting that the players cannot focus on cricket? Regardless, the end is near as the teams prepare to play their final ODI of the series.
Upul Tharanga (c), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage
Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Usman Khan
Where the Teams Stand
At this rate, the Sri Lankan team selection panel should earnestly consider a complete squad overhaul, retaining only Tharanga and Thirimanne from the current side. Their terrible run of form since the series against India at home has persisted beyond reasonable limits. The batsmen fail to score runs, and the bowlers fail to take over three wickets per match. The latter has been true for the last two ODIs whereas the former has been valid for months now.
Coach Nic Pothas claimed in a press conference of one of the earlier ODIs that his side was still searching for the best combination regarding their batting. The problem arises when one realizes that all the possible combinations are the same because none have yielded anything close to a positive result for the side. Tharanga and Pothas have tried Kapugedera, Samarawickrama, Siriwardana, and none have come close to fulfilling expectations. The bowling attack faces the same issue too, all possible combinations have been exhausted. What do you do when posed with such a problem?
Sri Lanka might become the only permanent cricketing nation to be demoted to associate nation status if their performances do not improve. While hyperbolic, it reflects how ineffective their players have been, both away and at home. Faithful fans will still hope for a miracle, but one would be wise to not be too optimistic.
The home side has consistently dominated Sri Lanka in every department throughout the series. Babar Azam, in particular, has been phenomenal. He has scored two centuries and 61 in the last match, personifying consistency. Malik has been a rock-steady anchor down the order who isn’t afraid of being aggressive. Imam-ul-Haq, who made his debut in the third ODI, already has a 100 under his belt too. Overall, Pakistan’s batting order has clicked this series, an encouraging sign for their 2019 World Cup hopes after winning the Champions Trophy.
To complement their batting, their bowling has been superb. They’ve bowled out Sri Lanka in three out of four ODIs, taking eight wickets in the first one. Sri Lanka have taken 21 wickets throughout the series in comparison. Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan have been the most successful, the latter proving himself to be an exceptional talent for the future.
Can Sri Lanka win the last game of the series and avoid a whitewash? Let us know in the comments below.
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