Sri Lanka’s batting vs Pakistan’s allrounders
A keen tussle for the Khaleej Times trophy in Sharjah today

by R. L. Fernando
Yet another One Dayer final will be played in the desert region of Sharjah today (day/night) when Sri Lanka takes on Pakistan for the coveted Khaleej Times Trophy and a cash prize of $ 120,000. The runner-up will carry away $ 80,000, while the team in third spot Zimbabwe will receive $ 50,000.

In addition to the three overall prizes there are several prizes on offer for outstanding individual performances.

In taking the performances so far off the checkroll, Sri Lanka has won three matches (2 against Zimbabwe and 1 against Pakistan) and lead the points table with 15 points while Pakistan has two victories against Zimbabwe and are with 10 points.

On performance Sri Lanka holds the reins over Pakistan by beating them once but one should remember that it was just one match. And as a matter of fact every match happens to be a different kettle of fish as one’s earlier performance is rarely repeated in one’s second and third appearances and so on. In adding to everything the game of cricket is said to be one of the most unpredictable sports and is also one with fluctuating fortunes as the favourites can lose with the underdogs ending up as winners.

Yesterday’s match between the two countries should be accepted as a rehearsal for the big one today.

On paper both teams appear to be equally matched. The Lankan’s forte will be their batting line up which goes down to No. 7. They tried out two new young pacemen in Ranil Buddhika and Prabath Nissanka who impressed on their debut and were assisted by Vaas and Dilhara Fernando. The spin department as usual rests on the shoulders of Muralitharan, skipper Jayasuriya and Arnold. As a matter of fact only eleven players can be in a team and it will be interesting to see what Sri Lanka’s final eleven will be for the big one.

The Pakistan camp led by paceman Waqar Younis is a strong combination with most of the players being allrounders of repute. The batting depth goes down to about No. 9 while their pace combination of skipper Younis, Shoaib Akthar, Abdur Razzaq, Wasim Akram and Azhar Mahmood is a formidable one. The spinners are Shoaib Malik and allrounder Afridi. Here too it will be interesting to see what their final eleven will be for this match.

In the fielding department, both teams seem to be balanced. But to enter the winner’s enclosure anyone requires a bit of luck as well and either team on its day will be hard to topple and that’s certain. So who will call the tune?

Of some of the individual awards on offer, so far, Afridi has scored the fastest 50 off 36, balls and also hit the highest number of sixes, while Waqar Younis has been the highest wicket taker.

Among the allround performances there has been Zimbabwe’s wicket keeper Andy Flowe. (The cricketer of cricketers for 2001) who has excelled in batting and his keeping. His stumping of Pakistan’s opening batsman Taufir Umer off paceman Gary Brent was something out of this world, in other words a peach. That feat should certainly earn him a prize. Flower’s keeping reminded us of our very own Ben Navaratne.

Incidentally, Zimbabwe the third nation lost all its four matches and added to their record series of losses in one dayers.