The target will be as clear as it can be when Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in their Asia Cup Super Four match in Colombo on Thursday – win and face India in the final of the 50-over tournament.
What has happened in the Asia Cup so far?
After India defeated Sri Lanka in an absorbing contest at the R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday, the equation simplified for all teams involved, with Bangladesh out of reckoning and their match against the Indians on Friday turning into a dead rubber.
Hosts Sri Lanka will be in the right frame of mind when they take on Babar Azam’s team after they pushed India all the way with ball and bat and only lost by 41 runs on a dry surface in the capital city.
Who could play on Thursday?
Another slow turner is expected on Thursday, which should aid Sri Lanka’s spin heavy bowling attack; the islanders deployed as many as four against India, who struggled against all of them.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are trying to plug many leaks. Firstly, they are facing a personnel shortage. Fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah are injury concerns and with the World Cup just a few weeks away, they won’t risk any further damage.
Batsman Agha Salman also suffered a cut beneath his eye while sweeping during the heavy defeat to India. The team in green are therefore likely to make changes. Fast bowler Zaman Khan is likely to play while spin-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz could come in to bolster the spin attack.
The form of their batsmen is also a big concern following the manner of their dismissals against India - both to the quicks and Kuldeep Yadav's left-arm spin.
Pakistan v Sri Lanka qualification scenario
Since India are already through to the final with two wins out of two and just one more game to go against Bangladesh, it will be a straight shootout between the hosts and Pakistan. Both sides have a win and a defeat apiece, which means the team that wins their last match of the Super Four stage will make it to the final.
However, if there is a washout – the forecast is for rain throughout the week – then the equation will come down to net run rate. In that case, Sri Lanka will be through as Pakistan’s net run rate nose-dived to -1.89 after their record 228-run defeat to India.