A second successive loss would throw them out of the Asia Cup while a win could throw open the four-horse race.
But with the fatigue and resultant injures, Sri Lanka go into the match as underdogs. They have played five matches in 10 days in the CB Series, including the travel from Hobart to Melbourne and then to Adelaide, and will be playing their second match in three days here.
Too wearyExcept for Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna, who were picked for the Asia Cup, others have directly travelled here from Australia. They were so tired that Jayawardene admitted that most players were happy to stay at the hotel when a political rally deprived them of their only training session here before the match against India on Tuesday.
"I'm really happy with the way the boys played. We lost the match for our mistakes. The boys are really tired and we cannot do much about it," Jayawardene said on Wednesday, ahead of their first training session since they landed in Dhaka on Saturday.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are looking for consistency they believe their new coach Dav Whatmore would be able to instill in the side. They survived a scare against Bangladesh in the opening match and would want to win on Thursday, which would virtually ensure them a final berth. If that happens, they would not have the extra pressure of have to survive when they take on India on Sunday, the first time the two will be meeting since the World Cup semi-final in Mohali a year ago.