5th ODI Preview: Pakistan looks to secure a berth in the Champions Trophy

The fifth and final match of the series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Sooriyawewa, Hambantota, on Sunday will be much more than a dead rubber. Pakistan has taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. The fifth match may be a mere formality for a vast majority of fans. For Pakistan, however, this is an opportunity to consolidate their bid to enter the Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka will seek a consolation win, which could give the series score line a much more respectable-looking feel.

Pakistani teams during practice session ahead of 5th ODI - AFP Ishara S. Kodikara
Pakistani teams during practice session ahead of 5th ODI – AFP Ishara S. Kodikara

Also See: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2015 Schedule

Background

Pakistan is well in line to secure a berth in the Champions Trophy. They are the eighth-ranking team, having garnered 90.4 ratings. If the status quo is maintained, Pakistan will gain an entry into the eight-team Champions Trophy tournament to be held in England in November later this year. The other competitor for the Champions Trophy berth is West Indies, who has registered 88.4 points. If Pakistan wins this match, their rating will surge to 91.7 points – a lead of 3.3 points over West Indies. If they lose, they will have only 89.7 points, a mere 1.3 points head of West Indies.

Pakistan will eye to make the score line 4-1. They are ahead of Sri Lanka in terms of both form and momentum. They just have to ride on the momentum and positive vibes created by the victories in the test and ODI arenas.

Preview – Pakistan

It is time for Pakistan to offer a chance to a couple of youngsters like Ehsan Adil and Mukhtar Ahmed. Some of the work horses in the team may be offered rest. Mohammad Irfan, Yasir Shah and Mohammad Hafeez are all injury prone. A day’s off will given them a world of good.

Pakistan batting has clicked collectively in the ODI series. Azhar Ali and Shoaib Malik have been consistent right from the word go. Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan and Ahmed Shehzad have chipped in whenever the team needed quick runs. More than anything else, they now look like playing as a team. Good days are ahead for Pakistan cricket.

Also See: Champions Trophy 2017 Coverage

Preview – Sri Lanka

The reverse can be said about the islanders. Their immediate future looks bleak. They have not found a replacement for Muttiah Muralitharan yet. There are no signs for capable replacements for Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The bowling in this series has been insipid. They possess perhaps the most toothless international bowling attack among test playing nations at the moment. Batting too has been inconsistent. If Sri Lanka has any hope of winning this match, their batting needs to click. Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews seem the best bets for the home nation.

Prediction

Another Pakistan win is on the cards.

Also See: Champions Trophy 2017 Coverage

 

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