When it rains in Sri Lanka, it pours, especially when there’s a cricket series on. Not for the first time, matches in Colombo have been threatened by rain and this time, it is Pakistan who are forced to bear the brunt in the course of their five-match One-Day International series.
While cricket fans cling to a prayer and keep one eye on the clouds approaching on the horizon, Sri Lanka Cricket have put in place reserve days for the remaining two ODIs, on Saturday and Monday at the R Premadasa Stadium. Incidentally, rain is forecast for both those days. With the series tied 1-1, the first two matches in Pallekele producing results, the Colombo leg threatens to be a damp squib. On June 13, only 6.2 overs, and even that with a couple of interruptions, were bowled.
The home Board had explored the option of moving the last two ODIs to Hambantota, but when this proved to be logistically unfeasible, the best they could to was put reserve days in place.
In the play that has been possible so far, there have been many fascinating passages, not least the workout given to Sri Lanka’s batsmen by Pakistan’s fast bowlers in the first match. Mohammad Sami, returning to ODIs after a gap of more than five years, showed that his pace had not dipped, but neither had his propensity to mix unplayable deliveries with ones that are off the radar. Umar Gul, who took a pounding in the first T20I, relished the extra space the 50-over format provided and kept the batsmen on their toes. If the bowlers ensured that the game swung Pakistan’s way in the first match, Sri Lanka’s batsmen wrested the initiative in the second game. Tillakaratne Dilshan showed the way with a century and Mahela Jayawardene, batting at No. 5, chipped in with a breezy 53 to take Sri Lanka to 280. Even Azhar Ali’s dogged unbeaten 96 could not help Pakistan get close, setting the series up perfectly before rain intervened.
The two teams have played each other 13 times at the Premadasa Stadium and Pakistan have the slight edge, coming out on top on six occasions to Sri Lanka’s five. Rain has ensured that two matches produced no result, and the fans can only hope that there isn’t an addition to that tally on Saturday.