Although Pakistan won UAE series 3-2 against Sri Lanka in December, yet most of the matches were close contests. At the same time, keeping in mind Sri Lanka’s clean sweep in Bangladesh, all odds are that it should be an even contest. In the Big Three controversy, the cricket boards of these two teams were united and it seems in future we will see extended bilateral series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But for the time being, all eyes are set to the opening match of Asia Cup 2014 where these two strong teams will show their strength in the race to finals.
Toss: Sri Lanka has won the toss and decided to bat first.
Match Timings : 02:00 PM local | 08:00 AM GMT | 01:00 PM PST
Pakistan has been in a great touch in recent past. Their strength lies in their bowling while their weakness shows itself in batting side. They have the bowlers like Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi among the many more options available to them. Junaid had been formidable for the Sri Lankan batsmen who were unable to play him with confidence. He will be up against the opposition with the confidence gained in past tours. Sri Lankans are good at playing spin but still the magic of Saeed Ajmal is difficult to predict and he can take vital wickets at crucial junctures. Umar gul has a lot of experience and is especially expert with the tale-enders. Shahid Afridi is loved for his aggression in batting but his true worth lies in his bowling that has a unique flavor of its own.
On the batting side, Pakistan has the dependable Misbah-ul-Haq who is able to sail the team through troubled waters. Mohammad Hafeez is good at both batting and bowling but if he is in a good touch, he can go a long way with his bat. The team has integrated some young blood in the batting line and there are high expectations from them.
Sri Lanka is a much stronger batting side than Pakistan. This is their real strength that they keep resisting until someone is able to find his frequency and change the fate of the game. Their middle order has rescued the team so many times that now it has become their focal point of strength. However the team will play without Tillakaratne Dilshan and it is likely that Mahela Jayawardene will open for his team. Sri Lankan top order must perform if they want to dig their way to the finals. Depending on middle order is a risky business and can cost them the tournament.
Kumar Sangakkara has been in top form in Bangladesh but in UAE, Pakistan was able to normalize him through their excellent bowlers. This is again a test for both Sangakkara and Pakistan’s bowling and will be a contest worthy to watch.
Pakistan :Ahmed Shehzad, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq*, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal†, Umar Gul
Sri Lanka :LD Chandimal, PC de Silva, DPMD Jayawardene, RAS Lakmal, SL Malinga, AD Mathews*, MDKJ Perera, NLTC Perera, KC Sangakkara†, SMSM Senanayake, HDRL Thirimanne
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