After hitting a self-destruction mode in the fourth ODI, visitors Pakistan will look to clinch the fifth and last game to level the series 2-2 against hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo on Monday.
Chasing 244, the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side went from 166 for 2 to 179 for 9 in less than four overs, losing the contest, which, at one stage was well within their grasp. Besides 81 not out by Azhar Ali and 57 by Misbah, six of their other batsmen registered ducks.
And though a lot of credit should be given to the Sri Lankan bowlers, especially Thisara Perera who took 4 for 42 in his 10 overs – including a hat-trick – for the way they maintained the pressure on the visitors, it was Pakistan’s batsmen who floundered one more time – their 15th defeat in 18 chases of a target of over 240 in the past three years.
Come fifth ODI, Pakistan will hope to repeat their performance of the two-match Twenty20 series, which they drew level after losing the first match against the same opponents. They will also want their opener Mohammad Hafeez – who got his fifth duck in his last 12 international innings on Saturday – to provide the side a solid start.
The way Lasith Malinga peppered Umar Akmal with a string of short-pitched balls that ultimate led to his wicket and also triggered Pakistan’s collapse should be worrisome for their coach Dav Whatmore.
Pakistan let Sri Lanka off the hook by dropping Kumar Sangakkara when the left-hander was on 35 off 82 balls. The former Sri Lanka skipper made use of the life provided by smashing 62 off his last 48 deliveries. It also allowed Sri Lanka to reach a competitive total as the visitors first conceded 49 runs in the batting powerplay and then gave away 69 off the last ten overs.
But the visitors are still capable of surprising the hosts if they plug the missing links and come up with an improved performance.
Sri Lanka: 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 6 Thisara Perera, 7 Angelo Mathews, 8 Lahiru Thirimanne, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Sajeewa Weerakoon
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Gul, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Saeed Ajmal