Sri Lanka v Pakistan preview

It was not so long ago that these two teams played each other in the UAE. Both have had decent success playing England since then, but Pakistan will go into this series strong favourites. They have not lost a Test in the last twelve months (winning seven and drawing two) and the conditions will not be too alien for them.

Sri Lanka, despite a pair of memorable victories over the winter, are a struggling team. Their batting has some serious question marks over it; they have some greats in Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, but they have not had a lot of support for those two and have been left vulnerable when the big names fail. In 19 completed innings in the last twelve months they have been bowled out for under 250 in eight of them and only passed 400 three times. Their overall team batting average in that span is a mere 28.27. Those two victories over South Africa and England are their only two victories in their last eleven Tests (they have lost five). Both of them came from excellent bowling performances, but overall their bowling has not been any more impressive than their batting. In only four of those eleven Tests have the opposition been bowled out twice and in seven of twenty innings they have scored over 400. Sri Lanka have certainly had their moments, but they are few and far between and one can not expect much from them.

Pakistan are in almost the opposite situation. They have not lost a Test since being beat by the West Indies over a year ago and won seven in the past year including the famous 3-0 whitewash of England. Their bowling has been consistently excellent, though they have had the advantage of playing mostly on familiar subcontinent pitches. Their batting has also been good, though not to the same extent and like Sri Lanka they are a bit reliant on a few very good players. Unlike Sri Lanka though, they have batsmen down the order to prevent collapses from getting out of hand. Their only real problems, besides occasional collapses, have been still fairly poor fielding and that Misbah-ul-Haq is a fairly defensive captain. When they played Sri Lanka in the UAE last year they probably ought to have won by more than a 1-0 margin, but let a possible victory get away with dropped catches and a lack of attack.

The combination of excellent bowling, competent batting and mostly friendly conditions has been a very potent one for Pakistan and I see no reason why one should not expect all three to be at play in Sri Lanka. Pakistan should be confident coming into the series and hopefully will be a bit more aggressive. Sri Lanka might be able to bat well enough to get a draw in one of the matches, but I don’t see them winning any and I am predicting a 2-0 series win for Pakistan.

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