Will Lanka be able to break the jinx, defeat an inconsistent Pakistan in WC?
After losing their respective opening matches by humiliating margins against New Zealand and West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan made a sort of dream comebacks by defeating Afghanistan and England, and registered their first two points on the points’ table.
The Lankans will come into the face-off with confidence as they defeated the Afghan side in a see-saw game. Though the Malinga-led bowling ticked a lot of boxes against a not-so-strong batting line-up of their fellow Asian opponents, the batting, especially the middle order, will be determined to ameliorate their performance.
After the openers got them off to a flier, the middle order collapsed from 92-0 to 201 all out, and their No. 4 to 7 managed a cumulative total of only four runs. The Island nation will want Mathews, the senior player, to bat with responsibility and stabilize the batting.
For Pakistan, unpredictability has always been the word associated with them, and they justified it by two ‘chalk and cheese’ performances in their two opening games.
After being bundled out in their first match for their second lowest score in World Cups, they made a Phoenix-like comeback with a total of 348 against the hosts and world no. 1 England.
Pakistan would ideally want Sarfaraz, Hafeez and Babar Azam to carry on their form from the previous game. Their bowling line-up won the crucial moments in their game against England, and Sarfaraz will certainly hope that they are economical vs an inferior Lankan batting line-up.
Both teams won their respective encounters batting first and will be looking forward to do the same thing at the Bristol County ground.
The 1996 champions have improved their middle order and that means Jeevan Mendis will most likely be included in the playing XI, and thus, Lakmal will be dropped.
Predicted XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lasith Malinga.
With a convincing victory against the hosts, England, they are unlikely to make any changes to their squad, unless anyone gets injured.
Predicted XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c&wk), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.
Stats that matter
Pakistan has won the last six encounters against Sri Lanka. They are the only team Sri Lanka hasn’t beaten in the World Cups with 7 wins for the Men in Green.