The two-week long schedule of Asia Cup 2022 has panned out such that the paths of Sri Lanka and Pakistan converge with no context riding on their meeting, except that they meet again two days later with the trophy on the line. In what has been a highly-competitive tournament, the chips have fallen in such a way that the final Super Four game serves as a dress rehearsal for the summit clash.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan both started the tournament looking short of quality to go all the way, but have grown in confidence and performance as the tournament has gone on. Pakistan come into this fixture on the back of a morale-pumping win over India and a nervy but eventually ecstasy-inducing victory over Afghanistan. Sri Lanka's path has been one of composure, as they showed wares to chase well under pressure against both Afghanistan and India.
In that sense, Friday's game represents the face-off of in-form sides with very little to separate between the two right now. The absence of context takes nothing away as both sides can use their first meeting against each other this tournament to cast a microscopic eye on the opposition and fine-tune their plans for the final.
When: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, Super Four Match 6, September 9, 06:00 PM Local time, 07:30 PM IST
Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium
What to expect:Dubai has served up good batting pitches in Super Four, with teams batting second particularly getting the better conditions to play with.
Head to head: Pakistan 13 - 8 Sri Lanka. The last time the two sides met in Pakistan in 2019, Sri Lanka beat the home team 3-0.
Injury/Unavailability: The in-form Shadab Khan underwent some attention from the physios while batting in the previous encounter, but the extent of his injury is as yet unknown. If rested or unavailable, it could present an opportunity to Usman Qadir.
Tactics & Matchups:Naseem Shah took all the plaudits for Pakistan's win over Afghanistan but Asif Ali's 8-ball 16 too was crucial in their successful chase. Asif could once again be pivotal to Pakistan against a side that has bowled immaculately at the death in the last two Super Four games - 37 for 5 against Afghanistan and 46 for 4 against India.
Probable XI: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain
Injury/Unavailability: None since their last outing.
Tactics & Matchups: In 2019, Sri Lanka's triumphs over Pakistan came courtesy Wanindu Hasaranga (2/20, 3/38 and 3/21). He has had an ordinary Asia Cup so far but against a right-hander dominated top-order who he matches-up well against, it could be redemption time. Among the batters, Sri Lanka's middle-order core - three left-handers - match-up favourably against both Shadab Khan (leg spinner) and Mohammad Nawaz (left-arm spinner).
Probable XI: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka
Did You Know:
- Since January 2022, Dasun Shanaka has 396 runs in 15 T20I innings at a strike rate of 145.05 and an average of 39.60
- Since the 2021 T20 World Cup, Shadab Khan has picked 22 wickets in 15 T20Is and has an economy rate of 5.90 in this period