Pakistan were off to a superb start through their openers Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed against Bangladesh before a familiar middle-order collapse left them reeling in Dhaka.
A late onslaught by surprise-package Umar Gul lifted them to a somewhat competitive total before they saw Bangladesh coasting towards the target. However, the sea-saw match continued as the Pakistan bowlers – not for the first time – Gul and spinner Saeed Ajmal sealed the result in their favour.
While the victory was a pleasant sight after the losses against England in the UAE, it left a lot to be desired from the Pakistan line-up.
Captain Misbahul Haq, who has faced a barrage of questions in the lead-up to Sunday’s clash against arch-rivals India, admitted the team needed to lift its performance.
“We just messed it up again,” Misbah said after the match against the hosts. “The guys are not learning from their mistakes and we need to rectify these mistakes and lift our performance or else we will struggle.” A win against Sri Lanka today will also reduce pressure ahead of the high-profile encounter against India and help Pakistan in booking a spot in the final.
For Sri Lanka, who have also witnessed a roller-coaster ride amid more highs, captain Mahela Jayawardene will hope better from the bowlers. On the back of being the finalists in the Tri-Nation Series in Australia, Sri Lanka lost their first match against India, looking anything but in control throughout the game.
The bowlers could claim only three wickets in India’s innings and were thrashed all over the park in the final stages of the game. While credit needed to be given to MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, lacklustre and purpose-less bowling was a huge reason.
As Pakistan eye a consistent show from their batsmen, Sri Lanka’s bowlers will be expected to extract the help available in the Dhaka pitches.
Hafeez’s contribution will be crucial but it’s the middle-order that needs to fire for Pakistan to continue their winning run over Sri Lanka after a 4-1 win in the ODI series in the UAE.