COLOMBO - Pakistan's is facing tough task to save the five One-dayers series and try to win the final day to be played here on Monday (today).
Earlier in the fourth one-day Pakistani batsmen deprived their team of a chance of winning the series after reaching at winning position while chasing the victory target in the fourth ODI and sudden collapse in which they lost seven wickets for just 13 runs cost Pakistan the match.
That's if the weather permits them, though there's the insurance of a reserve day. The balance of power has shifted from spin to pace in the Sri Lankan bowling line-up, and the hosts' seamers have shown there's sufficient ammunition to defend a competitive score. Their batting has improved significantly, led by their experienced trio, after a forgettable performance in the rain-affected first ODI. Sri Lanka are a team on a high; Pakistan, with some sloppy fielding and misfiring batting, not so
This Premadasa track is not the one that made the venue a fortress of sorts for the home team in the previous couple of decades. They face a good bowling unit but Pakistan's batsmen have a bigger challenge - which they don't end up becoming their own biggest threat. Umar Gul received treatment on the ring finger of his right hand during the fourth ODI was impressive at the start, but faltered in the batting Powerplay. For reasons of injury, or otherwise, Pakistan have Sami to fall back on; he's recovering from a thumb injury himself. This year has been an expensive one for Umar Gul in ODIs. He's taken 15 wickets at 35.06 - his worst in a year - and has gone for 5.71 an over. His worst year, in terms of economy-rate, was 2010, when he went for 6.25 an over.
Among players who've scored more than 2500 runs in ODI cricket and not scored a single century, Misbah-ul-Haq has the highest average - 42.30.
Pakistan opener Hafeez on this tour so far struggled to get even the starts, with three ducks, two of them consecutive. His offspinners have been economical, but he isn't doing justice to the sound technique and solidity he usually offers with the bat.
Upul Tharanga has had a quiet series so far, with scores of 10, 18 and 4. He's just as much in need of a push; if picked today (Monday) will appear in his career’s 150th ODI.
Both teams practised on a rainless day on the eve of the fifth ODI. Sajeewa Weerakoon will think he's done enough to retain his place in the XI, picking up 1 for 49 with his left-arm spin. Sri Lanka could remain unchanged.
Sri Lanka (possible): Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga and Sajeewa Weerakoon.
Pakistan (possible): M Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul/M Sami, Saeed Ajmal.