Pakistan cricket has been in the limelight of late after the World XI side toured the country for 3 T20Is. The Independence Cup brought life to the game in the nation that was deprived of action for so long. To add the cherry to the top, the hosts won the series quite comprehensively which showed that good things lie ahead for cricket in the nation.
The whole team is filled with rejuvenation but for now, they are going to host Sri Lanka in their designated home of the U.A.E. and not Pakistan. The Pakistani side has been so dominant in U.A.E. and very rarely they have suffered a defeat there. Even though it’s an Asian side they are going face, they’ll still be the favorites going into the series.
On the other hand, Sri Lankan cricket has been going through the worst patch in the history. They first lost to Zimbabwe in ODIs at home and then, somehow managed to win the solitary Test. But after that, a strong Indian side absolutely decimated them across all formats. There was hardly any fight shown by Sri Lanka as they surrendered to the might of the neighbors.
But it’s a chance for Dinesh Chandimal and Co. to revive the fortunes in the game. Pakistan is perhaps not as strong as India in the longest format of the game and the conditions in U.A.E. won’t be too different from what they witness back home. It’s easier said than done though but if they manage to pull off a win, that would be the perfect start of the revival.
Pakistan last played in whites back in the month of May in the Caribbean where they won the 3-Test series by a margin of 2-1. This will be the first time they’ll play without the services of the stalwarts Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. The onus of the batting department would be on Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed as others are relatively inexperienced.
The bowling unit has a lot of potential. Mohammad Amir will make a return to the side after missing out of the Independence Cup owing to the birth of her daughter. Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali could be the other 2 pacers in the side. The leg-spinner Yasir Shah has passed the fitness and has made a comeback to the squad and he will be the player to watch out for.
Angelo Mathews is not available for the 1st Test and so, in his absence, the responsibility of the batting department would lie heavily on the shoulders of the captain Dinesh Chandimal. Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis form a talented bunch but whether they deliver the goods on the day or not, remains to be seen.
Sri Lanka’s chances in the series will depend heavily on how Rangana Herath bowls. He was ineffective against India but the tides could turn against Pakistan. The pace bowlers Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando and Nuwan Pradeep might have a hard time against the opposition’s batting. There are a few new faces in the squad who might have to wait for there chances in the playing XI.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Mir Hamza, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Asghar
Sri Lanka: Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Nuwan Pradeep, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dimuth Karunaratne, Roshen Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan
1st Test- September 28 – October 02 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
2nd Test- October 06 – October 10 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai