Pak­istan hopes to turn for­tunes around against Sri Lanka

Daily Messenger - - Sportlight -

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.

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