Pakistan and Sri Lanka have just one game left to play in their five-match series before the two sides switch gears to the Test format. With Pakistan having already won the series, it's just pride and momentum left to play for in the final game on Friday.
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Date: Friday, December 27, 2013
Start time: 11 a.m. GMT
Live on: PTV Sports (Pakistan), CSN Sports (Sri Lanka)
Weather: According to Accuweather, Abu Dhabi should be sunny but not too warm, with highs reaching 22 degrees Celsius.
There is something really exciting about Pakistan as a team when they are performing well in one-day cricket. The brand of cricket Pakistan play is unique, enticing and exciting, and although the one-day series against Sri Lanka has been up and down, they have been the side to watch for their entertainment value.
Mohammed Hafeez has been Pakistan's trump card with 407 runs in four games at an average of 203.50, including three hundreds. He's leading the pack by miles with Ahmed Shehzad second on the list with a total of 260 runs, including one hundred and one fifty.
Pakistan's batsmen have set the tone throughout the series, and the top order's ability to convert their starts is what has put them in good stead. Although Sri Lanka have had Angelo Mathews, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan all contributing, their players just haven't quite gone on to make the big scores.
Pakistan's batsmen have been backed up by their bowlers with four of the five top wicket takers in the series being home players. Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul have all bowled out of their skins to keep their side in the hunt at all times. As far as one-day series go, it's been an important one for both sides with the 2015 World Cup to think about. Unearthing new stars and old stars finding form is key for the build up and as a unit, Pakistan will be the far happier of the two sides.
The series might be game, set and match in Pakistan's favour, but they are starting to show that they can be a ruthless team who finish with no mercy. They'll be hoping to do that with the Test series just around the corner. With so many of their players crossing over to the longest format of the game, a little bit of momentum will go a long way for a Pakistan team who are starting to find their identity despite being shackled by adversity.
Umar Gul's return to international cricket has been stupendous. He picked up three for 19 in his first ODI back and followed it up with three for 37 on Wednesday. At the death, there is nobody quite like him, and his accuracy and yorkers will be key to Pakistan restricting Sri Lanka to a low total.
Angelo Mathews is starting to mature as a player, and although he is yet to score a fifty in this series, his all-round ability should not be doubted. Finishing the series on a high note is key for the skipper heading into the Test series.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Bilawal Bhatti, Umar Gul
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Ashan Priyanjan, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Seekkuge Prasanna
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