Pakistan and Sri Lanka are set to face one another at Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka on Friday. The match does not hold much importance in the context of the series, as the finalists – India and Bangladesh – have already been decided.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka were two strong teams in the Asia Cup, but their performances in the competition have been rather disappointing. Their record has been identical in the Asia Cup, losing to India and Bangladesh, with their only victory coming against qualifier UAE.
Despite such form, they cannot let their guard down. They need to use this match as much-needed practice for the upcoming World T20 in India, where the competition is expected to be much more intense, with other strong teams like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand also in the fray.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afrid has been criticised for his captaincy, but PCB chief Shaharyar Khan does not want to make any changes before World T20.
"I understand there is a lot of criticism but I am not going to change anything one week before the major tournament in India," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Shaharyar as saying.
"Afridi will remain captain unless he himself pulls out of the job. He has been serving Pakistan from the last 15 years. There are problems in his captaincy which can't be mended and especially at a time when his career is about to be end."
Pakistan need to sort out their batting order and lock in the correct one ahead of the World T20. Pakistan need to bring quality T20 players like Umar Akmal at the top of the order. Akmal has batted in the middle order for Pakistan in the Asia Cup, but should be given a chance to open or come in at No.3.
Their best three batsmen – Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik – have to bat in the first three positions. In the T20 format, best players always have to come up the order in order to face more balls, which gives them a chance to score more runs. Pakistan will be well advised to try such combinations against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
And as far as their bowling goes, they need to hand slow-left arm Mohammad Nawaz a game before they throw him in the mix in the World T20, where spinners will have a major say. They cannot play with four pacers in the World T20.
Likewise, Sri Lanka can also use this match as perfect preparation for the World T20. It is evident that the team, without retired stars such as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, lack experience. Their batting has been a major problem. Apart from Dinesh Chandimal, none of the batsmen have looked comfortable.
Experienced players such as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera need to shoulder more responsibility. And for a team in transition, they need such players to deliver and guide the young guns.
Mathews has been hurt by his team's performances in the Asia Cup.
"It's quite damaging, especially for the confidence level and the morale. You can't keep losing, it's difficult to digest. We haven't played our best yet and the most worrying thing is that we haven't clicked as a batting order. So close to the World T20, we have to connect the dots together and maybe try a few combinations," PTI quoted Mathews as saying.
The last round robin game of the Asia Cup gives Sri Lanka a chance to experiment with their bench strength as well. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay could be given a chance to play.
The dead rubber contest presents both teams a chance to try their bench strength and also experiment using different combinations ahead of the World T20.
Where to watch live
The Asia Cup match – Pakistan vs Sri Lanka -- is scheduled for a 7:30 pm local time (7 p.m. IST, 1:30 p.m. GMT, 8:30 a.m. ET) start.
Sri Lanka viewers can watch the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup game live on National TV, MTV Sports and Star Network. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can watch Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup live on OSN Sports Cricket HD. The live stream option is available on OSN Play.
Channel 9 will broadcast the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup match live in Bangladesh. Pakistan viewers can watch Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup live on Geo Super, PTV and Star; live streaming option on PTV Live Stream.
Yupp TV will broacast the match live in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.