Putting up a surprise performance, a new-look and inexperienced Sri Lanka have defeated Pakistan in the first two T20Is of the three-match series. They have now won the series, against all odds, and would look to finish on a high.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, despite playing at home and having a good recent form, looked insipid against an inspired Sri Lanka. They lost both the games while chasing achievable targets but crumbed severely under pressure.
This unexpected series victory by Sri Lanka has now set up the 3rd game at Lahore on the 9th of October nicely. Sri Lanka would love to wrap up the series 3-0 and chart a new course in their rise. Pakistan, however, would be desperate to win one match and restore some pride for their fans.
For Sri Lanka there are plenty of positives going into the final T20I. The likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shehan Jayasuriya, Danushka Gunathilaka and captain Dasun Shanaka have been in form in the batting department. If star batsman Avishka Fernando can find some runs in the last game then Sri Lanka might well do a clean sweep.Embed from Getty Images
Sri Lanka’s bowling has been even better. They have performed as a unit and put constant pressure on Pakistan by bowling economically and taking regular wickets. Seamer Nuwan Pradeep has been the most successful Lankan bowler in this series with 7 wickets to his name already. Isuru Udana has given him good company and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has been doing a neat job as well. Together, they would be looking to stifle Pakistan in the 3rd T20I as well.
Pakistani captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has a lot of questions to answer. His batting unit is horribly out of form. Star batsman Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman have not been able to make any contributions at the top. The likes of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal too would have to deliver. All-rounder Imad Wasim did a good job with the bat in the last game down the order and the team would bank on him to provide a good finish in this game.
Pakistan’s bowling, surprisingly, has been lackluster. While left-arm spinner Imad Wasim has been good, leg-spinner Shadab Khan has been expensive. Even pacers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have been unable to penetrate the Lankan batting.
If Pakistan hopes to stop the Lankan juggernaut, then they have to produce a much better show in the 3rd T20I.
Match prediction: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, 3rd T20I
In both the matches of the series, the team batting first has won the game. Since the 3rd and final T20I of the series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will also be played at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, we can expect the surface to behave in the same manner.
The team batting first should get a total in the range of 165-180. Batting will be tougher in the second half with the ball gripping and spinners coming into play. The combined total by both the teams should be between 280-300 runs.
Pakistan is playing at home and have all the talent at their disposal. But they look strangely out of sorts and not getting their combinations right. Sri Lanka look to be inspired and have found just the right balance and form at the right time. Sri Lanka should hence win the 3rd and final T20I of the series. Unless, of course, Pakistan finally finds its mojo back in T20 cricket.