Cardiff: Their campaigns back on track after upset wins, Pakistan and Sri Lanka face each other in their concluding Champions Trophy group match in a virtual 'quarter-final' in Cardiff on Monday.
Both the teams lost their opening matches but bounced back into reckoning after producing two of the tournament's biggest upsets so far.
Pakistan suffered a 124-run thrashing at the hands of arch-rivals and defending champions India but then notched up an upset win over world number one side South Africa to stay alive.
Sri Lanka too suffered a heavy 96-run defeat at the hands of South Africa but came up with a stunning batting show to shock India by seven wickets to place themselves in contention for a semifinal berth.
Pakistan bowlers, except for Mohammad Amir, were hammered by the top-order Indian batsmen but they made amends against South Africa whose batting line-up has several match-winners like AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim (2/20) and paceman Hasan Ali (3/24) bowled beautifully to restrict the Proteas to 219 for 8.
Babar Azam (31 not out) and Shoaib Malik (16 not out) got Pakistan ahead of their required run-rate to secure a 19-run win under the Duckworth-Lewis method when rain stopped play with their side 119 for three off 27 overs.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed had attributed the win against South Africa to good bowling against a strong side and he would look for another such display against the Lankans.
The Pakistani side also had the luxury of playing in front of a partisan crowd in Birmingham. It is unlikely to have the same support in Cardiff and it will have to be seen how much it impacts on the team performance.
"The crowd was supporting us and that's why the players were boosted," captain Sarfraz Khan had said after the win against the Proteas.
Sri Lanka looked pedestrian in their opening game defeat at the hands of South Africa, failing collectively in the absence of their captain Angelo Mathews.
The return of Mathews seemed to have inspired the Lankans in their match against India as they pulled off a dramatic win over the defending champions who apparently had no chinks in their armour until the loss.
Set 322 to win, Sri Lanka knocked off the runs with eight balls to spare thanks to contributions from Kusal Mendis (89), Danushka Gunathilaka (76) and Mathews (52).
Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are upbeat after their upset victories and it's difficult to pick a favourite.
History, however, favours Pakistan as they have won twice as against one by Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy. Overall, in the 147 matches the two sides have played against each other, Pakistan have won 84 as against 58 by Sri Lanka. One match was tied while four games ended as 'no result'.
Most of the matches in this event have been affected by rain and if a washed out happens tomorrow, it will be a complex calculation to decide who make it to the semifinals.
The Teams (From):
Pakistan: Sarfraz Khan (capt.), Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammed Amir, Mohammed Hafeez, Shadab Khan and Shoaib Malik.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt.), Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickewalla, Chamara Kapugedara, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Sekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara.
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Published Date: Jun 12, 2017 02:14 pm | Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 02:14 pm