Pakistan seek revival with change in format

October 12, 2017

DUBAI: It wasn’t a scoreline anticipated prior to the start of the series, given Pakistan’s strong record in what was their adopted home since 2010. Having not lost a Test series since then, and factoring in the battering that Sri Lanka had received at the hands of India last month, the bets were all in favour of Pakistan breezing through their opponents. However, the end result was in stark contrast with Sri Lanka sweeping the two-Test series, one of which was their pink-ball debut – a fixture that Pakistan had partaken in thrice before. With a home record shattered, confidence dented, Pakistan would now be looking at a change in format to overcome a Sri Lankan side that is finally riding on a wave of success when the five-match One-Day International series begins in Dubai from Friday (October 13). Pakistan, though, could morally be on the up and take refuge in the fact that their last one-dayer was the Champions Trophy final in which they beat India by 180 runs to becrowned champions in June this year. Pakistan will carry forward from the Tests only skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Haris Sohail and Babar Azam, the batsmen, and fast bowler Hasan Ali. While Mohammad Amir has been ruled out of the series with a shin injury, they will be boosted by the experience of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad, who are among the 11 to have been named in the squad that includes the pace trio of Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan and Usman Shinwari. While the influx of seniors strengthen the squad with their collective years of experience, emerging ones likeFakhar Zaman, who slammed a century in the CT final, legspinner Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf adds freshness to the side.
While the Test skipper lost his first Test series as captain, he hopes to turn it around come the one-day series. “Obviously, when you have a first Test series as captain, and you lose it, pressure will be there,” said Ahmed. “But we will try and get out of that. Our one-day team is balanced and our record is very good. We will have some senior players returning and I hope we’ll play better cricket,” he added, might having done well to remember Pakistan’s dismal record in one-dayers in the UAE. While they have done exceptionally well in Tests, they have lost 9 of the 12 series (two or more matches) played since 2009. However, of the three wins, two have come against Sri Lanka, which could be comforting for them. What also bodes well for the hosts is Sri Lanka’s own dismal form in the format, having lost 16 of their last 21 games, with only four wins and a no result. Angelo Mathewsfailing to recover from a calf injury doesn’t help their prospects, but the selectors have made a strong statement by leaving out Lasith Malinga for the series, who was disappointing against India last month, where he averaged 81 with just three wickets.
They are, however, boosted by the return of all-rounder Seekuge Prasanna, who played only one ODI against India, while Chamara Kapugedera’s average form in recent times didn’t matter, as he held onto his spot. Dinesh Chandimal was also included after having recovered from his fractured thumb. Chandimal had been left out of the original side to face India, but earned a call-up for the third game as an injury replacement before picking up one himself. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who last played in the format against South Africa in February, too earned a call-up, along with Dushmantha Chameera, who will be part of the Upul Tharanga-led Sri Lankan pace stocks alongside Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Viswa Fernando. Agencies