Champions Trophy 2017: Sri Lanka v Pakistan

Sri Lanka v Pakistan

Monday 12 June, 7:30pm AEST

It’s another sudden-death clash in Group B on Monday when Sri Lanka and Pakistan play off for a semi-final spot at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens.


Sri Lanka

After a first up loss to South Africa, Sri Lanka roared back into contention with a convincing seven-wicket win over India on Thursday. Winning the toss and electing to bowl first, the Sri Lankans toiled away in the field as India completed nearly half of their innings without losing a wicket, before eventually compiling an imposing 6/321.

Veteran quick Lasith Malinga picked up both openers but still finished with the unflattering figures of 2/70 off ten overs, although the entire attack struggled for penetration.

Opener Danushka Gunathilaka, only drafted into the squad as a late call-up for the injured Chamara Kapugedara, got the chase off to a strong start with a punchy 76 off 72 balls. Gunathilaka shared in a 159-run second-wicket stand with the talented Kusal Mendis, who top-scored with a superb 89 off 93 deliveries. When both departed and Kusal Perera (47 off 44 balls) retired hurt with a hamstring complaint, it was left to captain Angelo Mathews (52 not out off 45 balls) and Asela Gunaratne (34 not out off 21 balls) to see Sri Lanka home with eight balls remaining.


Pakistan

In similar fashion to their opponents, Pakistan were overwhelmed by India in their tournament opener, however hit back strongly to overcome South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

It was the Proteas who won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat first under gloomy skies, a decision they were soon regretting when Pakistan reduced them to 6/118 with left-arm orthodox Imad Wasim (2/20 off eight overs) almost impossible to get away, while nagging medium-pacer Hasan Ali ran through the middle-order to finish with 3/24 off eight overs. A late riposte saw South Africa reach a competitive 8/219 with the luckless Mohammad Amir (0/50 off ten overs) going wicketless for the second consecutive match.

On debut, opener Fakhar Zaman took a very aggressive approach to the chase with 31 off just 23 balls, however when he and opening partner Azhar Ali (9 off 22 balls) departed within three balls there were some familiar wobbles for Pakistan. However the middle-order trio of Babar Azam (31 not out off 51 balls), Mohammad Hafeez (26 off 53 balls) and Shoaib Mailk (16 not out of 14 balls) navigated them to 3/119 off 27 overs when the rain arrived which was enough to see them declared winners by 19 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system.


Sophia Gardens

Just the two matches have been played at Sophia Gardens in this competition with England comfortably defending 310 against New Zealand, who then went on to lose again to Bangladesh by five wickets with the Tigers chasing down 265 with 16 balls to spare. Interestingly across both matches the bowlers have benefited from attacking the stumps with 39% of dismissals being either bowled or LBW.


Key Stats

  • Sri Lanka have won only two of their past nine ODIs.
  • Sri Lanka have won only one of their past six ODIs in England.
  • Pakistan have now won three of their past four ODIs.
  • However Pakistan have lost seven of their past 11 ODIs against Sri Lanka.
  • Both sides have seen 13 or less sixes hit in eight of their past ten ODIs.

The Verdict

Pakistan have been installed as favourites to progress to a likely semi-final against hosts England with the market not anticipating another Sri Lankan surprise.

Expectations were set pretty low for Sri Lanka coming into this tournament as the least-fancied of the four sides in Group B, however their shock heist against the Indians has suddenly put them in the frame for consecutive semi-final appearances at the Champions Trophy. To get there they will need to draw on both youth via Kusal Mendis, Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella, and the considerable experience of Mathews, Malinga and Thisara Perera. However with a lukewarm record in this format of late, including plenty of struggles in English conditions, I would need a more attractive price before looking to get involved with the underdogs.

Pakistan had slightly higher hopes, although any chance of advancing to the knock-out stages looked relatively remote until they overturned South Africa. Their primary strength lies in the field with a talented bowling attack featuring two out-and-out spearheads in Amir and Junaid Khan, perfectly augmented by the accuracy and discipline of Hasan and Imad. Whether their batting line-up can post a winning score looms as their biggest question mark and given their unhappy history against their opponents, I also cannot justify backing the favourites at their current odds.

So while there is sufficient doubt over who will take out the match, one thing I am not expecting is an explosive game with plenty of big hits. Eight of Sri Lanka’s last ten ODIs, including their last four straight, have featured 13 or less sixes, with an average of just 7.5 overall. Similarly only two of Pakistan’s past ten ODIs have exceeded 13 maximums with again their last four straight falling under that figure. One area where we expect Pakistan may have the edge is in the field when their strong bowling attack faces Sri Lanka’s inconsistent batting unit, however it’s also difficult to see the Pakistani batsmen contributing too many sixes, having hit no more than five in nine of their last ten ODIs. Therefore I’ll be placing my faith in both bowling attacks and backing under 13.5 sixes in this one.


Betting Strategy

BACK -Under 13.5 Sixes at $1.40 or bigger for 2 units


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