Can Defending champions defend their title at their home ground?

Can Defending champions defend their title at their home ground?

Mohammed Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmad almost turned the game on its head after a short rain break during their innings reduced the match to a 42-overs-a-side contest after it had already been reduced to 45 overs due to the toss being delayed. The pair ensured that Pakistan score over 100 runs in the last 10 overs, with Rizwan finishing unbeaten on 86 off just 73 balls. The counter-punch helped Pakistan to a score of 252/7 but they have failed to keep the Sri Lankan batters down. Senior bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan leaked runs while misfields and dropped catches have not helped their cause. Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama put up 100 runs off 98 balls for the third wicket as they rotated strike perfectly.¬†However, Pakistan came roaring back with Iftikhar now striking with the ball. He took three wickets and the equation has come down to Sri Lanka needing 20 off the last three overs. With the minimum number of overs being reduced during their innings, what would have been a target of 253 has only been revised to 252 for Sri Lanka to chase in 42 overs. Despite the rain predictions and a bit of confusion over the nature of the surface, Pakistan announced their playing XI on the eve of the match. They made three changes – two of them forced – to their XI in the must-win match. Mohammad Haris had replaced an out-of-form Fakhar Zaman but Pakistan were then forced to bring him back after Imam-ul-Haq suffered an injury during the match-day. Additionally, Saud Shakeel was also ruled out with fever, with Abdullah Shafique replacing the batter.As far as Sri Lanka are concerned, they found a new hero in Dunith Wellalage, who almost single-handedly won them the match against India. Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka’s main concern, however, will be the pace attack and the underperforming top-order. Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne have not been at their best in this Asia Cup. In the absence of Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera, their pace-attack appears to be pale. It will be interesting to see the nature of the pitch in Colombo