DUBAI: Pakistan are counting on a change in format and players to overcome a resurgent Sri Lanka in the five-match One-day International series starting here at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Pakistan were upset 2-0 in the preceding Test series but they are hoping to change their fortunes and carry the limited-overs form which helped them win the eight-nation ICC Champions Trophy held in England in June this year.
They only have skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, batsmen Haris Sohail and Babar Azam and fast bowler Hasan Ali from the Test series, while experienced all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and opener Ahmed Shehzad amongst the 11 who joined the squad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz feels the pressure of losing his first Test series but promised a better performance in the limited-overs matches.
“Obviously, when you have a first Test series as captain, and you lose it, pressure will be there,” said Sarfraz who played a match winning 61 not out against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy group match.
“But we will try and get out of that. Our ODI team is balanced and our record is very good. We will have some senior players returning and I hope we’ll play better cricket.”
Pakistan also have a young crop of fast emerging players in opener Fakhar Zaman — who hit a century in the Champions Trophy final against India — leg-spinner Shadab Khan, all-rounders Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf, and pacers Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan and Usman Shinwari.
Their pace spearhead Mohammad Amir was ruled out of the series with a shin injury sustained in the second Test in Dubai.
Pakistan’s loss in the Test series was their first in the UAE in 10 attempts since they were forced to play at a neutral venue amidst security fears sparked after 2009 terrorists’ attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
But their ODI record in the UAE has been abysmal, having lost nine of the 12 series since 2009, only winning twice against Sri Lanka and once against the West Indies.
Sri Lanka have come from wretched ODI form, having lost 16 of their last 21 games, winning four with one no result. That included a 5-0 whitewash against South Africa and India and first-ever series defeat against minnows Zimbabwe.
That defeat against India last month put pressure on skipper Upul Tharanga.
“We lacked consistency. We didn’t bat, bowl or field well. We were outplayed by India. I am disappointed with our batting effort,” said Tharanga whose team failed to reach 250 in any of the matches.
The remaining ODIs are in Abu Dhabi (Oct 16 and 18) and Sharjah (Oct 20 and 23).
Three T20 Internationals will follow the ODIs, two in Abu Dhabi (Oct 26 and 27) and the last in Lahore (Oct 29).
PAKISTAN: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq
SRI LANKA: Upul Tharanga (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedara, Thisara Perera, Seekuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay
Umpires: Sundaram Ravi (India) and Ahsan Raza (Pakistan)
TV umpire: Richard Kettleborough (England)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017