That salty humidity, those constantly buzzing music bands and then an ever fighting bunch of boys who thrive in home conditions ~ Sri Lankans are one of the toughest teams to beat when in Sri Lanka..
On top of it, it's Asia cup, a tournament that Lankans have won thrice out of last four, with the exception of 2000 edition which Pakistan won. Pakistan, as we begin the 10th asia cup, are first challengers of 4 time winners Sri Lanka in a championship where each of 4 teams plays another once before a top two qualify for finals (no semi-finals). Since Bangladesh are relatively inexperienced, it should be a 3 way shoot-out for finals with India as third team, which makes each match an utterly important for all, unless minnows Bangla surprize someone & shut'em down.
Pakistan cricket has had a controversial last 6 months but that's nothing new to them. it showed when green team embarked on World T20 defence last month and made it to semi-finals regardless of the fact that many top players were missing and few stars performed. Pakistan is a team made of individual brilliance, and today in Asia cup opener, home team will have to neutralise visiting match winners if they want full points.
Weather forecast : rain will play hide & seek throughout today and whole week.
Head to head120th Sri Lanka v Pakistan one day international it will be.. previously, Pakistan have won 70, Sri Lanka 45 with 1 tied and 3 no results. Last ODI meeting of these two teams was on 9th August 2009 which Pakistan won by wooping 132 runs.
Playing XIsPakistan have opener & vice-captain Salman Butt in-form, but who partners him (wicket keeper Kamran Akmal or left handed Imran Farhat or rookie Shahzaib Hasan) will in interesting. Umar Akmal will have fond memories of one day & test debut he made in Lanka last year while return of Shoaib Mallik will attract lime-light. Abdur Rehman will keep Saaed Ajmal on top of his game. Will we see 20 year old Umar Amin make his debut?
Pakistan (likely) : Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Mallik, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Saeed Ajmal.
Sri Lanka didn't miss captain Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene during triseries in Zimbabwe last week as Tillakaratne led team returned home with trophy and a re-invented opener Upul Tharanga, to replace ageing Sanath Jayasuriya. Rangana Herath is the surprize pick ahead of Ajantha Mendis but presence of Muthiah Muralitharan will please home team the most.
Sri Lanka (likely) : Tillakaratane Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Thilan Samarweera/Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Muthiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath.
Telecast & start timeList of tv channels showing asia cup is little incomplete but may help. This match, as all games during the tournament, will be played as day-night at Rangiri ground in Dambulla, to start at 2.30pm local Sri Lanka time = 2pm Pakistan = 2.30pm India = 9am GMT/UTC = 10am UK = 1pm Middle East = 7pm Melbourne (Australia).