When Sri Lanka will clash against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday October 7, they will do so on the back of a convincing win against the hosts in the first T20I, where Danushka Gunathalika scored a well-crafted 57 to guide Sri Lanka to 165/5 in 20 overs.
The bowlers then put on a complete performance to bundle out Pakistan for 101 in the 18th over to register an emphatic 64-run win.
What Pakistan lacked during the run-chase was contributions from the likes of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, who did not manage to create an impact in their comeback games for Pakistan in the format. Akmal in particular was disappointing, who was out for a first ball duck.
So the onus will firmly be on the Pakistan batting line-up to deliver an improved performance, even apart from Shehzad and Akmal. They will need the number one T20 batsman in the world, Babar Azam to show why he deserves that tag, while the bowling will have to curb the threat of the in-form Gunathilaka at the top.
Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksha proved to be the perfect foils to Gunathilaka in the last T20I, when the visitors raced to 135/2 in the 16th over after being put in to bat by the hosts.
Mohammad Hansnain's hat-trick restricted Sri Lanka to 165/7 to revive hopes for Pakistan, and in the young bowler they have an exciting talent who has the potential to provide game-changing moments. They would hope for that and more in the second encounter.
"In T20s we can't take any team lightly. Credit to them, they kept it tight with the ball and in the field in the middle overs,” Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said ahead of the second match. “We didn't have a good day with the ball, but at one stage it looked like they would get to 170-180 and Hasnain brought us back well. God willing, we'll do well in the next game."
With Sri Lanka in good form and in with the chance of winning the series should they secure a win in the match, this has all the makings of a close encounter.
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