Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Babar Azam against Nuwan Pradeep and the other key battles

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Babar will be Pakistan's leading man once again.

As Pakistan and Sri Lanka prepare to lock horns in a historic three-match ODI series in Karachi beginning on Friday, we look at the three key individual battles which could prove to be decisive.

Fakhar Zaman vs Isuru Udana

After an electric start to his international career which saw him become the fastest batsman in history to bring up 1,000 ODI runs, it has all started to go downhill for Fakhar Zaman who is averaging just around 30 this year.

A poor World Cup campaign has only increased the pressure on the explosive left-handed opener whose place could be under threat under the new regime of Misbah-ul-Haq. Fakhar, who is Pakistan’s only ODI double-centurion so far, will have to be at the top of his game against Isuru Udana who is starting to develop into a dependable new-ball bowler for Sri Lanka.

Th 31-year-old left-armed pacer put in some impressive displays in the World Cup and has the ability to find some early movement with the white-ball. He will most certainly be eyeing Fakhar’s dodgy defence.

Not the best year so far for Fakhar.

Not the best year so far for Fakhar.

Mohammad Amir vs Lahiru Thirimanne

It was a resurgent Mohammad Amir we saw at the 2019 World Cup with the left-armed pacer ending up Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps in eight games. Having subsequently announced his decision to retire from the Test format, Amir will now hope to carry over that prolific white-ball form into the home clashes against the Lankans.

The Pakistan pace spearhead will be tasked with stopping Sri Lanka stand-in skipper Lahiru Thirimanne early in his tracks. The left-handed batsman is one of the more experienced stalwarts in the rejigged squad and two of his four ODI tons so far have previously come against Pakistan.

Amir was in resurgent form in England.

Amir was in resurgent form in England.

Babar Azam vs Nuwan Pradeep

The series marks the start of Babar Azam’s tenure as Pakistan vice-captain and the prodigiously talented batsman will be itching to turn on the style in front of his home fans. The right-hander will be the prized wicket for the visitors following his stellar form in the World Cup and most recently for Somerset in the T20 Blast in England.

With 10 tons and an ODI average approaching 54, Babar sits on the verge of breaking into the elite batsmen category but he will need to be wary of the threat posed by Nuwan Pradeep. The 32-year-old seamer was one of Sri Lanka’s better performers in the World Cup and played his part in the recent ODI annihilation of Bangladesh. Bowls good lines and lengths with the ability to seam the ball both ways.

Pradeep can cause some headaches for Babar if he gets it right.

Pradeep can cause some headaches for Babar if he gets it right.

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