Saturday Oct 05, 2019 | By: Zohaib Ahmed Majeed
Pakistan’s T20I record against Sri Lanka is even more dominant than their ODI record. It’s actually not even close.
The two teams first played each other in a 20-over international in 2007. Since then, the Lankans have beaten the Greenshirts just five times in T20I matches.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have 13 victories against Sri Lanka, giving them a whopping 72 per cent winning ratio against the islanders.
Sri Lanka have famously lost several key players to retirement in the last few years and thus been reduced to a shell of their former self. Their decline does not get more evident than in their T20I record against Pakistan.
The Sri Lankans have not beaten Pakistan in T20I cricket since 2013. Yes, you read that right.
On Dec 13, 2015, roughly six years ago, Sri Lanka beat a Mohammad Hafeez-led Pakistan by 24 runs in Dubai. Since then the two teams have played six T20Is and Pakistan have won each and every one of them.
So you take a side that has been dominated and then take out a bunch of regulars from it and throw it to their tormentors in their own backyard. What do you get? An annihilation, a beat down, a blowout defeat?
On paper, yes. But like all sports, cricket is not played on paper and in theories. There are still professional athletes out there who have been trained all their lives to play cricket at the highest level.
Besides, the 20-over format in nature is such that all you need is a few short bursts of brilliance and the victory is yours. Question is, do Sri Lanka have enough firepower to do even that?
A look at their rosters for tonight’s first T20I in Lahore answers that question. The side is overrun with unheard-of Fernandos and Pereras. The only familiar names are Jayasuriya and Rajapaksa but the former is not Sanath and the latter is not the former president.
Want more proof that this is a mismatch? Pakistan are the number one T20I side in the world. Sri Lanka are eighth. Pakistan have the number-one ranked T20I batsman in Babar Azam. Sri Lanka have who?
There is a massive gulf of ability between the two sides. And Pakistan, even with Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad trying to balance things out, would likely prove too strong for the tourists.
In the second ODI, when they’re more used to the Gaddafi Stadium conditions; or when the situation necessities them to; or when the hosts drop their guards a bit, they are more likely to pull off a win.
In the opener, they only have a puncher’s chance. Barring Sri Lanka pulling off a Buster Douglas, Pakistan should have this one in the bag.