1992 ODI World Cup champions Pakistan have in recent times staged a comeback in the longest format of the game, after somewhat of a nosedive after the retirement of the old guard that included the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. The Babar Azam-led Pakistan red-ball side have, however, appeared to have turned things around with a fair amount of success in the recent past, as they currently occupy third place in the World Test Championship standings. Pakistan have four wins and two draws in eight matches in the current cycle of the Test Championship, with an impressive points percentage of 58.33.
Sri Lanka have also been resurgent lately, fresh off a huge innings victory against Australia. The Lankans have been dealing with political turmoil in their nation lately, but cricket has been giving the country a well-deserved reason for happiness. Former skipper Dinesh Chandimal has seemed to have regained his form back, something which will be a huge positive for the side. Additionally, Prabath Jayasuriya, who recently made his debut in the longest format, has been in fantastic form, having just picked up nine wickets albeit in a losing effort against Pakistan in the first Test of the two-match series.
Although Pakistan took the lead in the two-match series, Sri Lanka would be keen to bounce back and level up the series.
Head to Head record
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have faced each other on a total of 56 occasions. The Pakistanis have the clear edge in the contest, winning 21 times, whereas the Lankan Lions have emerged victorious 16 times. There have also been 19 occasions on which the two sides have been equally matched. The 57th encounter will take place at the Galle International Stadium, which was also the venue for the first Test.
Pakistan’s fearsome bowling contingent
As they always have, this current Pakistan side also boasts a magnificent bowling attack, comprising of both quality pace and spin. The likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Hasan Ali, and veteran spinner Yasir Shah would strike fear into the mind of any batting line-up in the world. On their day, the Pakistani attack can be unplayable and a collapse for the opposition always looms large. Even in challenging conditions, their pace attack really packs a punch. Yasir Shah also looks to have returned to form of late, and his vast experience will be of great value if Pakistan are to wrap up a clean sweep.
Both sides fared quite well in the first Test, and given that it wasn’t a one-sided encounter in the least, the team sheets for the second Test are likely to remain unchanged. Pakistan will bank heavily on Abdullah Shafique, who produced yet another delightful innings, scoring a coveted fourth innings century, a fine 160* to take Pakistan to victory in the first Test. All-rounder Agha Salman was underwhelming in his first outing for the Pakistan red-ball side, but is likely to be backed for the second Test as well.
Sri Lanka are also more than likely to continue with the same squad. Prabath Jayasuriya, who has been mighty impressive in his two-match career so far, is expected to have cemented his place in the side, for the foreseeable future at least. Veteran Dinesh Chandimal’s fantastic run of form, including a spectacular double hundred against Australia, is a huge positive for the island nation ahead of the second Test.
While the contest promises to be a closely contested one, Pakistan hold the slight edge and look poised to win the second match and take the series 2-0.
Who will win the Man of the Match Award?
With many noteworthy performances coming from either side, it will be difficult to predict the player of the match, but Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s fantastic form makes him the favourite to walk away with the trophy. His teammates Abdullah Shafique and Yasir Shah have also been producing valuable contributions, and therefore it would not be surprising if either of them take home the prize. As for the Sri Lankan side, the resurgent Dinesh Chandimal is a likely candidate for the award, as he has shown remarkable consistency over the last few months. Prabath Jayasuriya and stalwart Angelo Mathews are also in the running to bag the man of the match award.