Pakistan face daunting task against Sri Lanka

Handicapped by the absence of their pace spearhead Umar Gul, Pakistan need to sort out their bowling combination when they face Sri Lanka on Sunday.

updated: July 02, 2008 17:27 IST
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Handicapped by the absence of their pace spearhead Umar Gul, Pakistan need to sort out their bowling combination when they take on a confident Sri Lanka in the Super Four stage of Asia Cup cricket tournament on Sunday.

The in-form Gul has been ruled of the entire tournament after suffering a rib cartilage injury and the home team will no doubt feel his absence for the crucial floodlit encounter at the National stadium.

The Pakistani bowlers were taken to the cleaners by arch-rivals India who overhauled a target of 300 without much difficulty in the last match and the hosts will have to plug the bowling loopholes if they hope to contain the formidable Sri Lankan batsmen.

Coach Geoff Lawson and skipper Shoaib Malik must be scratching their heads to come up with the best bowling combination which will now be spearheaded by Sohail Tanvir.

Like India, Sri Lanka have entered the Super Four stage with two carry-forward points having won both their group-A matches and the home team will need to put up an inspired show to stop them.

Pakistan's chances rely heavily on their batsmen, who have looked in good touch since the tri-series final win in Bangladesh. But much will depend on whether the bowlers can make a mark on a pitch which was expected to produce a lot of runs.

Pakistan's top order batsmen have been in good form with captain Malik, Salman Butt, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf having runs in their kitty. Malik scored 125 in the last game against India and will be keen to continue in the same manner in the more important matches ahead.

All rounder Shahid Afridi has been a trifle disappointing with the bat and the team management will be hoping that he strikes form quickly as he is capable of destroying any attack on his day.

The Sri Lankan top-order is in prime form with Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya shining at the group stage with Chamara Kapugedara lending solidity to the middle order.

Their bowlers have also done a commendable job though the performance has come against lesser opponents like Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates.

Their first real challenge will come on Sunday in what promises to be a thrilling contest in front of a holiday crowd.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Jehan Mubarak, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Mahela Udawatte, Chaminda Vaas, Kaushalya Weeraratne.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Anjum, Mansoor Amjad, Mohammad Yousuf, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Salman Butt, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Younis Khan.