A confident Pakistan, eager to keep the momentum going after its emphatic win against Netherlands here in the opener, takes on a battered Sri Lanka in the second round of the Cricket World Cup 2023 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Monday.
It was never going to be easy for Sri Lanka, especially for the bowling attack, to come back strongly after the way South African batters treated it with such disdain, posting a record-breaking World Cup score of 428 in the previous game at Delhi.
The conditions and the opposition may be different, with the ground being much bigger here. But, again, it is obvious that Sri Lanka needs to get its act together very quickly to make a statement here and keep the team’s morale high.
What could be worrying for Sri Lanka is that opening pacers Kasun Rajitha, left-armer Dilshan Madushanka and Matheesha Pathirana conceded 271 runs in 30 overs, against South Africa.
And, on what is expected to be another perfect batting strip here, it faces an uphill task against the likes of Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam, an in-form Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel, who are more familiar with the conditions, having been in the City for close to two weeks now.
On the other hand, it was a spirited batting performance by Lanka, with Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka and captain Dasun Shanaka, which ensured it was not a complete wash-out against South Africa as they showed their class.
But, again, the first objective of Sri Lanka could well be to stick to the basics, not to leak too many runs and face a Pakistan bowling attack which can be lethal given its variety and depth.
To the delight of Azam, the pacers Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, the crafty Haris Rauf, backed by the spin duo of left-armer Mohammad Nawaz and leggie Shadab Khan, were spot on against Netherlands.
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