The last round-robin match of the Asia Cup featuring Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, is a dead rubber contest, with India and Bangladesh already having booked their final spot.
Pakistan-Sri Lanka clash could have been a huge game for the Men in Green, had they defeated Bangladesh Wednesday. If Pakistan had emerged victorious, they could reach the final with a victory over Sri Lanka.
However, Bangladesh played some quality cricket to defeat Pakistan and end their hopes of taking on India in the final. The home team defeated Pakistan by 5 wickets in a thrilling contest.
Irrespective of the match being a dead rubber, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who are contenders for the World T20 in India, which starts from March 8, have plenty to play for.
Pakistan, who started the competition with a loss against India, have only defeated UAE in the group stages so far, though both their losses against MS Dhoni's men and Bangladesh, have been fairly close. They have fought well against both the teams.
Pakistan have been let down by their batsmen in the Asia Cup. They have failed to counter the swing, which is in the offing for the bowlers in Mirpur, primarily against India and Bangladesh.
Sharjheel Khan, who was impressive in the Pakistan Super League, has failed to deliver for Pakistan at the top, scoring 21 runs in the competition. Even their experienced batsman Mohammad Hafeez failed, scoring 17 runs in the series. However, Sarfaraz Ahmed has been the most impressive, scoring consistently for Pakistan.
Though their batsmen, overall, might have been below par, Pakistan's bowlers such as Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Sami troubled other teams with their pace and accuracy along with the swing. Amir was dangerous whenever he comes to bowl. The trio will be keen to help Pakistan defeat Sri Lanka in their last match in the Asia Cup.
Sri Lanka, like Pakistan, have been below par in the competition. Their batting line has lacked inexperience and injury to bowler Lasith Malinga early in the competition derailed them early on. Dinesh Chandimal was the only positive during the competition for Sri Lanka in the bating line, scoring 91 runs in the series.
Chandimal, who was asked to open alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan in the Asia Cup, provided solid start at the top, but the middle order comprising Angelo Mathews and others failed to capitalise, which is a major concern. In the bowling attack, Nuwan Kulasekara was the best bowler for Lanka, picking up six wickets.
Though a victory for either team in the competition might not mean anything in the context of the series, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will want to play impressive cricket, sign off on a high, and remind people that they are still a powerhouse in world cricket.
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup schedule
Date: March 3
Time: 7.30 p.m. IST (7 p.m. local time, 5:30 p.m GST, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 8.30 a.m. ET).
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1 (English commentary), Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD3 (Hindi commentary). Sri Lanka: MTV Sports and Star network. UAE: OSN Sports Cricket. Bangladesh: Star network and Channel 9. Pakistan: Geo Super, PTV and Star network.