Sri Lanka and Pakistan are far from strangers having contested 141 One-Day Internationals since 1975 and, as per their current three-match series, the two teams are normally evenly matched.
So far, both sides have landed big hits with the visitors pulling off an epic chase to take Game 1, and Sri Lanka fighting back to square things up in the second contest. But who can land the knockout blow?
Let’s take a look at how the teams are shaping up ahead of this decider.
Venue: Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla
Date: Saturday, Aug 30, 2014
Start time: 10:00 a.m. local time, 5:30 a.m. BST
Weather: According to weather.com, a mixed bag of conditions awaits with thunderstorms possible at any time among the usual tropical heat.
Live stream/TV Info: The match is on CSN in Sri Lanka, PTV and Ten Sports in Pakistan while UK viewers will have to search for Zee Cinema.
It seems like Sri Lanka have been playing non-stop cricket for months…which, with 24 matches across all formats since the start of May, they almost have.
But rather than fatigue setting in, the glut of games has bonded the team together and has helped them sustain a consistent high-level of performance as evidenced by the whitewash of Pakistan in the Test series.
Things haven't been as one-sided in this ODI series so far, with the visitors, thanks largely to Sohaib Maqsood's well-timed 89 from 73 balls, chasing down 277 from a precarious position of 106 for 5 to stun the hosts in the opener.
Normal service resumed at Hambantota, however, with Sri Lanka's vastly experienced middle order piling on the runs before spin duo Seekkuge Prasanna and Rangana Herath put the squeeze on.
More of the same will be expected from Sri Lanka in this game. Post a huge total on the back of innings from Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene or Angelo Mathews.
Then unleash a bowling attack spearheaded by Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath but backed up by a plethora of alternatives as evidenced by the eight different players who turned their arms over in the second ODI.
Misbah-ul-Haq's men had mixed news ahead of this clash. The good news is they welcome back their best player Saeed Ajmal after the spinner returned from completing ICC tests on his suspect action.
But unfortunately middle-order lynch pin Younis Khan has returned home after the tragic death of his nephew.
Still, they have plenty of batsmen in form...four players have registered half-centuries and Wahab Riaz's pace (seven wickets) combined with former skipper Mohammad Hafeez's twirlers have proved potent.
Historically, Pakistan have won 81 of their 141 ODI clashes compared to Sri Lanka's 55 but the numbers are much tighter if you ignore the latter's formative years in cricket.
ODI form (latest left to right)
Sri Lanka: WLLWLW
Sri Lanka (from):
Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardena, Dinesh Chandimal, Ashan Priyanjan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Seekuge Prasanna, Suraj Randiv, Thisara Perera
Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Talha, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaid Maqsood, Umar Akmal (wk), Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar
Players to Watch
The name of Angelo Mathews has normally been accompanied by a superlative of late and the Sri Lankan captain's incredible run of form shows no signs of slowing down. Scores of 93 and 89 in the two games so far are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his mammoth contributions that go back to his country's tour of England. A dangerous player at the peak of his powers who can do damage with both bat and ball.
Saeed Ajmal's return not only provides Misbah with his premier weapon of attack but it also brings a career ODI economy rate of just 4.14 from over 100 matches with 182 wickets, too. Quite simply, the best spinner in the world today...assuming his action is deemed legal by the ICC. If the wicket takes turn then the 36-year-old could be unplayable.
It is far from a long shot but, despite losing the series opener, Sri Lanka should have too much for their Asian counterparts. Scores of 275 (from 45 overs) and 310 indicate nothing is wrong with their batsmen and a wide array of bowlers give them the edge in that department, too.
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