Pakistan won a Test match for the first time in a year when they beat Sri Lanka in Galle last week and are now looking to follow up with another victory, this time in Colombo, to secure the series. Can they do it? We preview the encounter…
The second and final Test between the two countries gets under way on Monday morning with Pakistan 1-0 up thanks to the four-wicket success they sealed on Thursday.
The tourists’ attacking approach in the first clash eventually paid off as they ended their long wait for a Test victory so they should be confident of another win in what is the first Test to be played at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground since 2018.
Sri Lanka are expected to make one change, with Asitha Fernando set to return after recovering from a bout of dengue fever. Dilshan Madushanka is also thought to be under consideration for a recall.
Pakistan are likely to be unchanged after winning the first Test, although they do have an extra seam bowling option in the shape of Hasan Ali if they want to use him.
Pakistan to win @ 17/10
With Pakistan’s overdue wait for a Test win now over, they should take fresh optimism with them to Colombo as they go in search of a crucial follow-up victory.
They are favourites at 17/10 while with Sri Lanka are available at 21/10, although the weather could also play a part in proceedings with rain unfortunately forecast for at least some of the five days, with the draw priced up at 13/8.
Provided wet weather doesn’t disrupt things too much early on, the pitch at the SSG should be a better batting surface than the one in Galle and the tourists will hope the likes of Saud Shakeel, who hit 208 not out in the first innings last week, and Imam-ul-Haq, who was unbeaten on 50 in guiding his side home in the second, can enjoy themselves once again.
Sri Lanka’s batters largely disappointed in the first Test with Kusal Mendis failing to build on his good form going into the game as he struggled with scores of just 12 and 18, but Dhananjaya da Silva did shine, top-scoring for the hosts in both innings’ as he notched 122 and then 82.
Pakistan look to have a more rounded attack though with four different bowlers taking three wickets across the two Sri Lanka innings, and that continuing pressure could make all the difference.
Pakistan Top Run Scorer (1st Innings) – Imam-ul-Haq @ 18/5
Babar Azam is the 11/5 favourite to be Pakistan’s top run scorer in the first innings while Shakeel is a tempting price of 6/1 after he followed up his first-innings heroics last week with 30 in the second innings.
Imam, however, offers solid value at 18/5. His 50 not out was key in Pakistan’s run-chase on the final day in Galle and he will want to pick up where he left off when the two teams reconvene for the second Test.