Pakistan hopes to turn fortunes around against Sri Lanka
DUBAI: It’s time for the white ball and coloured clothing to come out of cold storage as Pakistan and Sri Lanka start a fivematch One-Day International series, with the first game in Dubai on Friday (October 13).
The two teams have had contrasting fortunes in limited-overs games in recent times with India as the common rival. Pakistan created history with a rare and big win over India in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final at The Oval in June. Sarfraz Ahmed's men will hope to continue that same ruthless form.
By contrast, Sri Lanka will look to overcome a 50 rout at the hands of Virat Kohli's men on its home ground last month, after a 3-0 hammering in the Test matches that preceded the limited-overs leg. Having upset all calculations by defeating Pakistan 2-0 in the Test series that ended on Tuesday, Sri Lanka will be hoping to carry that momentum to the shorter format as well.
But a change of format, kit and squad is what Pakistan will welcome. It has only Azhar Ali (rested following a knee injury) and pace spearhead Mohammad Amir (shin injury) missing from its Champions Trophy squad. Azhar's absence will allow Ahmed Shehzad to return to the XI while Imam-ulHaq, 22, will be waiting on the sidelines.
"Yes, I do hope that our fortunes also change with the change in format and players." said Sarfraz, who announced that Faheem Ashraf, Imam, Usman Shinwari and Haris Sohail would sit out the first match.
"We have a lot of hope from this team, which developed as a unit during the Champions Trophy," he added. "Sri Lanka have a good team on paper, so this will be a good series."
The lethargy of the Test matches will also be replaced during the ODIs. Only Sarfraz, Sohail, Babar Azam and Hasan Ali are around from the side that played in the Tests. Reinforcements such as Mohammad Hafeez, Shehzad, Shadab Khan and Fakhar Zaman will certainly reinvigorate the side.
Pakistan's pace reserves will also serve it well in the ODIs, and more than make up for Amir’s absence. Junaid Khan, his long-time partner, will spearhead the attack with Rumman Raees - fresh from his 9 for 25 in an innings in a domestic match -- and the lively Hasan for company.
Pakistan will also hope for a return to form for Babar, who had been spun to repeated failures in the Test matches. He made a thumping start in ODIs with three successive hundreds against Windies and a century in Australia. Pakistan will want him to repeat those feats here. Hafeez, Shehzad and the experienced Shoaib Malik will also bolster the batting.