COLOMBO: Sri Lanka would look to carry on their winning momentum from their opening match and seek their first World Cup victory against Pakistan when the two teams meet here tomorrow.
The two teams have played six World Cup matches from 1975 to 1992 and all of them have been won by Pakistan.
With paceman Lasith Malinga set to return for tomorrow’s Group A match at the R Premadasa Stadium, Sri Lanka would fancy to make amends of their awful record against Pakistan.
Both teams recorded thumping wins against Associate Members in their opening games in Hambantota. While Sri Lanka won by a massive 210 runs against Canada, Pakistan beat Kenya by 205 runs.
"It’s time for us to change that I suppose. If we do the basic things right, we have a great chance for tomorrow," Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said.
Since 1992, Sri Lanka have won the World Cup (in 1996) and they have become a much better side since then. The last time Sri Lanka met Pakistan in an ODI was during the Asia Cup in Dambulla and the hosts had won on that occasion also.
Malinga on that occasion picked up a five wicket haul and he’s expected to play a key role on tomorrow’s game.
Playing at home conditions and in front of a sell-out crowd, it would be a perfect setting for Kumar Sangakkara’s men to make amends of their woeful World Cup record against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka Cricket has announced that the reserved tickets were sold out two months before the game. The non-reserved tickets were put on sale a week before the game and finished within a couple of hours.
Malinga is the only change the Sri Lankans are expected to do with the fast bowler coming in for either Nuwan Kulasekara or Thisara Perera.
"He was feeling a bit stiff ahead of the Canada game. We have a long World Cup campaign and didn?t want to take a risk.
He?s should be okay for tomorrow once the physio clears him," Sangakkara said.
Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, who is set to retire from international cricket after the World Cup, would also be eager to play his part in his country making amends of the poor record against Pakistan.
He has a world record 521 wickets in 342 ODIs and has a tally of 95 against Pakistan in 64 matches, and is even more dangerous in home conditions.
Pakistan, the 1992 champions, are expected to stick to an unchanged side that thrashed Kenya by 205 runs.
"Tomorrow’s game is important for us. In this tournament, momentum is important. Sri Lanka in their home ground are very good and it’s very difficult to beat them. But we have played and trained and I am hopeful we can beat them," Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said.
For Pakistan, they would look to improve on their starts both in batting and bowling.
"If the openers give us a good platform then we have in-form batsmen like Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan and Umar Akmal," said Afridi.
"We know the importance of the match and I am confident that we are up to the Sri Lankan challenge, whether it’s Malinga or Muralitharan," he said.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (captain and wicketkeeper), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Younis Khan.
Match starts at 14:30 hrs IST.(PTI)