Sri Lanka have been the best team in the Asia Cup 2014 so far, undoubtedly. But then, Pakistan have been by far the most exciting side, coming out of nowhere to pull off wins, while thrilling the crowds with their extravagant, pulse-pounding (read Shahid Afridi) batting.
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So, in a manner, to use English Premier League parlance, it is a bit like Chelsea vs Arsenal - one team, you know what you're getting, solid and composed, while the other, is as unpredictable as ever, but on their day can put any opponent to the sword.
Sri Lanka are the only unbeaten team in this year's Asia Cup, having won all four of their matches in the first stage. There were a couple of close-than-we-would-have-liked wins in there, but for the most part, their experience in batting (read Kumar Sangakkara) and spin nous, coupled with the prowess of Lasith Malinga have come to the fore when needed.
"None of the games were easy for us," Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews said. "It is going to be a fresh match against Pakistan. We have to play positive cricket.
"We are not worried about any individuals but the Pakistan team is balanced and strong. They have good batters and bowlers so we have to play the best cricket to win against them."
Pakistan at the other end, have a few injury worries, the main one being their match-winner of the last two games - Afridi. The enigmatic all-rounder strained his hip during his brilliant half-century against Bangladesh, which turned the match in Pakistan's favour, allowing the men in green to chase down their highest ever ODI target.
Pakistan management confirmed Afridi, who missed practice on Friday, was still feeling the effects of the strain, and was touch and go for the final, even if he was responding well enough to treatment.
"Shahid Afridi has a grade one hip flexor strain," Pakistan manager Zakir Khan said. "Our physio is working on him. He's been given rest and treatment. Hopefully tomorrow [Saturday], before the start of the match we will know the complete situation about Afridi.
"He has responded well to the treatment. We are all analysing and assessing his situation. Tomorrow we will take the final decision about Afridi."
Pakistan also have concerns over opener Ahmed Shehzad, who has a shoulder issue, with pace bowler Umar Gul feeling the effects of the tournament.
"We have little bit of niggles and strains to Ahmed Shehzad who was struggling with his shoulder," Zakir added. "He's also responding well to treatment. He's coming up well. Umar Gul was little bit stiff but he's also coming out of it."
At the end of the day, no matter who plays, in a big final, it is all about winning the smaller battles, which Sri Lanka, it must be said, have done well throughout the tournament, especially in the first game of the Asia Cup 2014 against Pakistan. But, if the defending champions Pakistan can pull a couple more rabbits out of their hat ala Afridi, then we could be in for a humdinger of a final.
Asia Cup 2014 Final: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Live TV information (Match starts 2 pm local time, 1.30 pm IST, 8 am GMT, 3 am ET)
|India||Star Sports 1,Star Sports 3 and
Star Sports HD1
|Canada||CBN andATN Cricket Plus|
|United Kingdom||Star Life OK|
|Bangladesh||Channel 9 andStar Life OK|
|Sri Lanka||MTV Sports|
Asia Cup 2014 Final: Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Live Streaming information (Match starts 2 pm local time, 1.30 pm IST, 8 am GMT, 3 am ET)
Team news: Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan is also coping with a knee injury, apart from the worries to Afridi, Gul and Shehzad, but Misbah-ul-Haq is confident his side can cope, no matter what the situation.
"Obviously your main players make a difference to the side," Misbah said. "We are, however, mentally strong. You may have seen [Fawad] Alam played really well in absence of Sharjeel Khan. The confidence level is very high.
"All the members of the team have been performing well. There is a will to win. We hope to get them in the side but at the same time we're confident that even if they don't play, we have the boys in the bench who are capable and confident to win the game for us."
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga, rested for the win over Bangladesh, will definitely return to the playing XI, with Suranga Lakmal the most likely bowler to make way. But, if Sri Lanka think they need an extra pacer, then one of the spinners could be forced to sit out the final.
Dinesh Chandimal was also rested in the last match, with Ashan Priyanjan impressing in his stead. So it remains to be seen if Sri Lanka decide to stick with Priyanjan, or go back to Chandimal, who has struggled for runs in this tournament.
"Selection is very hard, because the bowlers and batters are performing quite well," Mathews said of the conundrum facing him. "It is a good problem to have as a selector or captain. You want the whole team having competition within themselves. We will have a tough time to select the team."
Expected lineups: Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan.
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Chaturanga De Silva, Thisara Perera, Sachitra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis.