Both economies are on the verge of collapse – Sri Lanka’s, it might be argued, is collapsing already; both nations are straining under outsized external debt; and both are negotiating with the IMF for relief. It is the first of two Pakistan vs Sri Lanka matches to finish the Asia Cup off. Welcome to the first Debt Trap Derby.
On the bowling front, Pakistan perhaps have a clear advantage. But then, both teams are likely to rest key bowlers for this dead rubber.
Sri Lanka WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Four innings, 33 runs, a strike rate of 117: Babar Azam, arguably the best batter in the tournament, is having a poor stretch. There is no obvious reason for the low scores, so perhaps it is a mixture of confidence and luck. Either way, you don’t expect him to stay down for long. If Sri Lanka opt for a weaker bowling attack for this match, perhaps he will have the chance to bounce back.
Sri Lanka might swap Asitha Fernando, who has been expensive, for one of the younger quick bowlers Matheesha Pathirana or Pramod Madushan; the latter, if he plays, would be making his debut. There is also a chance of Sri Lanka resting Wanindu Hasaranga so as to not give Pakistan a look at him ahead of the final, and bringing in Jeffrey Vandersay.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Mendis (wk), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Danushka Gunathilaka (capt), 5 Dasun Shanaka, 6 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Jeffrey Vandersay, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Matheesha Pathirana, 11 Dilshan Madushanka
Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Shadab Khan/Usman Qadir, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Mohammad Hasnain
Pitch and conditions
As usual, the Dubai pitch is expected to favour the team batting second, with dew perhaps forming in the second innings to hamper the bowlers. It will be the same surface as the one used by India and Afghanistan on Thursday and so, as such, will be worn.