The hosts will take part in the 50-over format for the first-time since their victorious Champions Trophy campaign as the visitors look to stage turnaround after embarrassing recent home losses to Zimbabwe and India.
By Giri Subramanian (10th October, 2017)
The last time Pakistan played an ODI game was about 4 months ago when they lifted the Champions Trophy by defeating their arch rivals India in the finals. The Pakistan ODI side in the tournament had their ups and downs but by the end of it looked like a balanced outfit. The Sri Lankan team on the other hand has had a horror 2017 in the shorter format. The Sri Lankan team has only won 4 out of the 21 ODI games they've played this year which includes a shock home series defeat against Zimbabwe and an ODI whitewash (again at home) against India following that series.
The Pakistan team will be buoyed by the return of their experienced ODI batters, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. Azhar Ali has been rested from the ODI series and it will be interesting to see who will partner Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order, the candidates being Ahmed Shehzad and Imam-ul-Haq. Mohammed Amir also misses out due to the shin injury he sustained in the second Test against Sri Lanka which means Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan will lead the pace attack during his absence. The middle order of Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and the captain Sarfaraz Ahmed does give a settled look to the Pakistan ODI team.
The Sri Lankan team though will be hoping to carry the confidence gained by their Test series win into the ODI series. The team again will rely heavily on Dinesh Chandimal in the absence of Angelo Mathews to guide the young team. The Sri Lankan top and middle order carries a lot of experience with the captain Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne and Chamara Kapugedera. Kusal Mendis and Milinda Siriwardana form the rest of the batting order for Sri Lanka. The bowling attack though lacks experience in the absence of Lasith Malinga. Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep probably will take the new ball with Thisara Perera playing as the all-rounder. Akila Dananjaya who was Sri Lanka’s shining light in the 5-0 whitewash against India will most probably play as the lead spinner in the team.
Players to watch out for:
Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees:
Fakhar and Hasan both played a crucial role in Pakistan’s Champhions Trophy campaign. Fakhar was brilliant with the bat at the top of the order and Hasan Ali was fantastic with the ball by picking crucial wickets in the middle overs. Rumman Raees is yet another promising young pace bowler for Pakistan. Even though he got to play just a single in Champions Trophy, he impressed one and all with his bowling. The absence of Mohammed Amir from the ODI side will provide the youngster a much needed opportunity to showcase his talent. All the above mentioned players will be extremely important for Pakistan’s success in this ODI series.
Dinesh Chandimal & Akila Dananjaya
Dinesh Chandimal in the absence of Angelo Mathews is the best batter in the line-up and will be crucial if Sri Lanka have to trouble Pakistan. Akila Dananjaya who bowled brilliantly against India in the ODI series will be crucial to dry up runs in the middle overs and also pick wickets to keep Pakistan batting in check.
At the start of the series even though Pakistan have their own selection headaches, it does look like the home team holds all the aces. They have a settled batting order and a bowling attack which unlike their Test attack has plenty of variety. The Pakistan team though haven’t played an ODI game for almost 4 months now and will have to shed off their rustiness soon at the start of the series. The Sri Lankan team though will start as the underdogs in the series and will have to play extremely well to upset the hosts. The team from the island nation will hope that their new found confidence will help them to rediscover their ODI form which seems non-existent in the recent times.