A fresh start for Pakistan’s T20 side
A talented Pakistan side face a tough test as they start a fresh campaign under a new skipper Mohammad Hafeez when they lock horns with Sri Lanka in the 1st of two T20I’s at Hambantota.
Pakistan kick off a long Sri Lankan tour with 2 T20I matches followed by 5 ODI’s and three Tests. They have been in tremendous form in the limited over games of late. They will go into the match on the back of a splendid win in the Asia Cup. Misbah-ul-Haq has stepped down from captaincy and the reins have been handed over to Hafeez who has shown tremendous all-round capabilities. He will have the responsibility of leading a relatively young side.
Exciting prospects such as wicket-keeper Shakeel Ansar, Haris Sohail, left-arm spinner Raza Hasan have been included in the squad following good performances on the domestic scene. With an inexperienced batting line-up, the likes of Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik would be looking to set an example for the youngsters and lead from the front which can turn out to be great learning experience. Umar Akmal has heaps of talent but needs to be consistent.
Their bowling line-up looks ominous with the likes of Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir and Shahid Afridi. It has been further bolstered with the inclusion of pacer Mohammad Sami who last played for Pakistan in 2010. Sami’s heroics in the recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League paved the way for his comeback. Pakistan lost their last T20I series 2-1 against England in the UAE. Yasir Arafat, Khalid Latif and Ahmed Shehzad are the others who have made a comeback to the side. It’s going to be their bowlers versus Sri Lanka’s batsmen.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, haven’t had a good start to the year as they haven’t won a single Test or ODI series. They had a poor outing in the Asia Cup and this is their best chance to gain back the confidence. They will again be lead by Mahela Jayawardena. He has a good mix of youth and experience in his side. Dinesh Chandimal is an exciting prospect to watch out for along with Lahiru Thirimanne.
The pace bowling department will be lead by the fiery Lasith Malinga followed by the disciplined Nuwan Kulasekara. Sachithra Senanayake will most probably be the lone spinner in the line-up. They have a strong all-round department consisting of Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. Jeevan Mendis and pacer Dilhara Fernando have been recalled to the squad. Fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep has also been included in the squad. Their batsmen will be up against a dangerous bowling attack, and much will reply on the senior pros like Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne to deliver the goods. They look a well balanced side.
The last time these two teams met in a T20I was in a one-off match in Abu Dhabi where Pakistan hammered the Lions by five wickets.
Pakistan are looking to build a fresh young side for the upcoming T20 World Cup and they would be hoping that Hafeez settles down well with the young team. Both the teams would be looking to start off on a positive note and gain the much needed momentum. A cracker of a contest is definitely on cards.