Sri Lanka and Pakistan, after contrasting defeats against India, will meet in a virtual semifinal in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Thursday.
While Pakistan was outplayed by Rohit Sharma’s men in a rain-marred two-day contest, Sri Lanka gave India a scare by bundling it out for 213 before its batting unraveled in a 41-run defeat.
A record 228-run defeat against India means that Pakistan is at the mercy of the weather. It needs to win at all costs, as a washout will put Sri Lanka, which has a superior Net Run Rate, in the final. While the skies were overcast, the rain steered clear of Colombo on the eve of the match.
On the field, Pakistan will have to contend with a depleted bowling attack, which is without the injured Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf. Zaman Khan is set to make his ODI debut as Pakistan announced five changes to its eleven that lost to India, the most notable among them the exclusion of opener Fakhar Zaman.
In potentially spin-friendly conditions, Pakistan opted for spin all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz in place of Faheem Ashraf.
Babar Azam’s batting unit has lacked consistency in the past month and will have its task cut out against Dunith Wellalage, who stunned India with a five-wicket haul on Tuesday. His left-arm spin will be a handful for Pakistan’s right-hander-heavy middle-order.
Sri Lanka’s middle-order, on the other hand, has ably shouldered the responsibility, with Sadeera Samarawickrama being the bright spot, while Kusal Mendis and Charith Asalanka have made meaningful contributions.
Dasun Shanaka’s side has also been successful in tiding over its injury woes in the bowling department, as different bowlers have delivered in each game, and it will hope to continue the sequence in a must-win match.
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