Pakistan suffered a humiliating 2-0 loss in the series against Sri Lanka at home for the first time since 2010. As a result, the visitors are back to winning ways after some disappointing campaigns which saw them under-performing heavily.
The home side starts the ODI series with a familiar lineup with all their biggest names included whereas Sri Lanka retains most of the same squad from the Tests. Despite the win, the Sri Lankans would be mistaken in underestimating the Pakistanis, especially away from home. The two teams put up some exciting cricket in the two matches they have played so far, and the ODI series promises to be even better.
Upul Tharanga (c), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay
Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Usman Khan
Where the Teams Stand
The form of Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella is a huge positive for the Lankans from the Tests. The Test captain scored an unbeaten 155 in the first Test, and a 62 in the second, whereas Dickwella also had scores of 83, 40, and 52. Thirimanne was disappointing in the first Test, and it may cost him his place in the ODI team despite his performance against India. Siriwardana was another player excellent against India, with both bat and ball. He is pretty much guaranteed a place in the opening squad.
Tharanga, Perera, Kapugedera and Kusal Mendis are other batsmen in the squad. Tharanga, being captain, will surely play. Perera regained form during the World XI series, and looked in spectacular shape, sealing his spot. The latter two and Thirimanne’s places are on the line, and only two of them can play on Friday.
The problem for Sri Lanka arises in their bowling. Both their top performers from the Tests are not part of the ODI squad. Though Lakmal and Pradeep also fared decently, how they will do without Dilruwan Perera and Herath remains to be seen. Dananjaya will replace one spinner in the team, with the other spot up for grabs. Prasanna, Vandersay, and Chameera are all in contention for it, and either could make the cut. If Tharanga wants to play a third seamer, Fernando is an option. Before the Test series began, this team faced the same problem they’re faced with now. Strong batting, weak bowling.
The home side only has themselves to blame for their shambolic performance in the Tests. They were not up to the mark with either bat or ball. However, a revamped squad should help their cause. Shoaib Malik, Hafeez, Shehzad and Zaman all return to the fold to reinforce the batting, which was the main cause of their downfall. Haris Sohail, Ahmed, and Azam retain their place in the squad. The Pakistanis have also included an exciting young talent named Imam-ul-Haq in the squad. The batsman has an uncannily similar name to Pakistani legend Inzamam-ul-Haq, and he has shown early glimpses of brilliance in the domestic circuit. He might get a chance as well.
Pakistan’s bowling has suffered from the squad change. Mohammad Amir, Abbas, Yasir Shah, and Riaz all miss out. They still have Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Imad Wasim and Rumman Raees, but the attack pales in comparison to the one from the Tests despite their ineffectiveness in this series. Hafeez and Malik can bowl out the overs between them, and both are able spinners in their own right. Overall, the bowling attack is decent, but they will have points to prove on Friday.
Who will come out on top in this blockbuster clash? Let us know in the comments below.
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