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Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, 1st ODI: Preview and key players to watch out for | 27th September 2019

Aakash Arya
ANALYST
Preview
27 Sep 2019, 17:23 IST

Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2019
Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2019

After the 2009 attack, people wondered if, at all, cricket would ever return to Pakistan. Ten years down the line, 1389 ODIs and three World Cups later, a weakened Sri Lankan side is all set to play against the best that Pakistan has to offer at National Stadium, Karachi. 

For more on Lahore attacks in 2009, hear what Simon Taufel had to say.

Pakistan will be led by an emotional Sarfraz Ahmed who might still be having flashbacks of a dismal World Cup campaign earlier this summer. But his first ODI as captain at home could well be the motivation he needs to kickstart a crucial phase in Pakistan cricket. Keeping in mind the future of Pakistan, Babar Azam will act as his deputy and lead a more or less similar looking side that was seen at the World Cup 2019. Imam-ul-Haq is in the form of his life, having scored two back-to-back centuries for Sindh at the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy after a decent outing at the World Cup where he was the second highest run-scorer for Pakistan. 

Wahab Riaz is expected to open the bowling alongside Mohammad Amir, while Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan will be Pakistan’s go to all-rounders. Sarfaraz, who himself is going through a rough patch of form will be itching to perform in front of the home crowds. 

With Dimuth Karunaratne not in the side, stand-in-skipper Lahiru Thirimanne will lead an inexperienced Sri Lankan team, captaining the side for the first time since 2015. With the pitch expected to turn after the opening passage of play, Lakshan Sandakan will likely play as the lone specialist spinner.  

As many as 9 most experienced Sri Lankan players had already opted out of the Test tour of Pakistan schedule to be held in December, a weakened ODI squad didn’t come as a surprise for the Pakistan cricket board. Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and present ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne all pulled out of the ODI tour, thereby denting any chances of a Test series in Pakistan. 

Four wins out of the last five (one match was washed away), Pakistan start as the home favourites considering their form, conditions and a stronger team in comparison. Although it’s a much-awaited cricket series in Pakistan, it has every potential to turn into a one-sided affair favouring the home team.

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