A 2-0 series win on the cards for Pakistan in Colombo as it looks to extend its good run to all three formats
Sri Lanka has already conceded the Test and One-Day International series, but it will look to avoid another series defeat when it takes on Pakistan in the second and final Twenty20 International at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Saturday (July 31).
Pakistan won the three-Test series 2-1 before taking a closely contested ODI series 3-2. The visiting side also picked up a 29-run win in the first T20I that was played at the same venue on Thursday.
Pakistan came up with a solid, all-round effort in that match. It was buoyed by solid contributions from Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order, before Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal lent useful hands in the middle order.
Similarly, the bowlers put on a collective display. Sohail Tanvir led the way with 3 for 29 in four overs, with Anwar Ali, the right-arm medium fast bowler, Imad Wasim, the left-arm spinner, and Shoaib Malik also chipping in with wickets, while Mohammad Irfan and Shahid Afridi were economical.
This is a new-look Sri Lanka side, with as many as four players -- Dhananjaya de Silva, Binura Fernando, Milinda Siiriwardana, and Jeffrey Vandersay -- making their debuts in the last match. With the ICC World Twenty20 scheduled to happen in March-April next year, this will be another learning experience as they seek to gain exposure ahead of next year's mega event.
While Sri Lanka is still trying to adapt in the absence of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, its two warhorses, it did have a few positives to take from the previous game.
Vandersay was economical, even as Pakistan put up a big score, and Dhananjaya scored 31 solid runs, though he consumed time doing so. Siriwardana's heroics in the latter half of the chase was also one of the bright spots of Sri Lanka's batting effort.
Nuwan Kulasekara, who was recalled for the series after being ignored for the ODIs, was not included in the XI in the last match and it remains to be seen if Sri Lanka see fit to include him. Kulasekara is a seasoned campaigner and his inclusion will give the bowling an additional weapon, while he can use the long handle to good effect in the death. If Sri Lanka opts to go with the experience of Kulasekara, Fernando may have to miss out.
For Pakistan, Yasir Shah, the hero of the Test series, returned to the T20I scene after four years, although he was not picked for the first game. But with a leg-spinner already in the side in the form of Shahid Afridi, the captain, Pakistan may continue to opt for the variety of Imad Wasim's left-arm spin.
Sri Lanka is the No. 1 ranked T20I team in the world and will want to live up to that billing, for which it will seek more performances like Kusal Perera's 25-ball 68 in the second ODI and his century in the fifth and final match.
Pakistan, on the other hand, secured a Test and ODI series win on Sri Lankan soil for the first time since 2006 and will look to extend the good run to all three formats.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera (wk), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedara, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Kulasekara, Binura Fernando, Chathuranga de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Nauman Anwar, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Zia-ul-Haq.