This tournament have already seen a lower sixth ranked ODI team marching forward before better ranked major teams, now the seventh ranked Sri Lanka and eighth ranked Pakistan have the chance to qualify for the most competitive ODI tournament. How this became possible is not a Cinderella story, for it both teams made possible by winning against their opponents South Africa and India. Losing their first match both teams outplayed their opponents in the second game and register wins to have a chance for qualifying at the semi-finals. Sri Lankan are currently playing a team game and each individuals are performing for teams successful campaigns. They though have some serious players issues before the start of this major knockout game, Upul Tharanga is suspended for this game, Chamara kapugedera is already been ruled out of tournament, inform kusal Perera hamstring injury is another serious blow for the team and he too will be unavailable for this game. A change in line up would definitely need some new planning and strategies. Pakistan though have saved itself from the blow of Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz exclusions with a win over south Africa. But they would once again need a team effort to get over the line against Sri Lanka.
What: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, champions trophy, 12th June, 15:00 IST
Where: Sophia gardens, Cardiff, Wales
What to expect: Cardiff surface have less pace and bounce than the other two venues, the pitch would be good for batting and would be helpful for reverse swing bowlers.
Sri Lanka: WLWLL
Sri Lanka: with kusal Perera hamstring injury and Upul Tharanga out due to suspension, Sri Lanka have roped in Dhananjaya de Silva directly into the line up and he would get a game straightway to play in the middle order. Lakshan Sandakan could be included in place of Thisara Perera if Sri Lanka would like to play an extra spinner.
Probable XI: 1 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt.), 6 Asela Gunaratne, 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Nuwan Pradeep
Pakistan: they are unlikely to make any changes with the winning combination but if possible could rope in faheem Ashraf in place of Mohammad Hafeez.
Probable XI: 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Shadab Khan, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Junaid Khan
Players in the Spotlight:
Kusal Mendis: this extremely young talented batsman of 22 yrs of age have hit more fifties than Joe Root since 2011. His knock of 89 runs against India won Sri Lanka the match and a chance of qualifying for the semi final.
Fakhar Zaman: his destructive style of batting gave Pakistan a flying start against South Africa, he is just one game old at the international arena and Pakistan would expect much better performance from this Southpaw.
Match Prediction: Sri Lanka have a better chance of winning the match as they represent a better stable batting line up than Pakistan. They would just need to overcome the hurdle of Pakistan reverse swing.