Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Hosts look to begin Misbah-ul-Haq's term with victory in second ODI

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As if a 10-year long absence of One Day International cricket wasn’t long enough, heavy showers have forced the city of Karachi to wait another few days.

The first ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was washed out on Friday at the National Stadium. And while the second ODI at the same venue had to be postponed from Sunday to Monday, it is set to finally get underway.

The forecasts for Monday look encouraging with no rain on the horizon and the attention can now turn to the action on the pitch.

SENIOR PLAYERS MUST STEP UP

With several senior members of the squad opting out of the tour due to security concerns, Sri Lanka arrived in Karachi with a host of inexperienced players.

The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne, Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews all decided against the tour, leaving The Lions considerably weakened.

Avishka Fernando and skipper Lahiru Thirimanne in particular will have to step up with the batting order looking especially weak. The fact that the visitors have lost each of the last six completed games against Pakistan makes the task at hand even more daunting.

However, the washout and subsequent postponement of the second ODI may have done the Sri Lankan camp some good. The youngsters have been afforded a little more time to find their bearings and get acquainted with the rest of the squad.

It’s an opportunity for the likes of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Minod Bhanuka and Wanindu Hasaranga, among others, to establish themselves.

MISBAH CAN’T MISS OUT

The anticipation around this fixture couldn’t be greater and Misbah-ul-Haq has done little to manage expectations. Nothing but victory will do for the new Pakistan head coach and chief selector – the first person to hold both roles.

While the hosts will have all their stars available for the match, including a stellar top three of Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam, they face a depleted Sri Lankan side. As such, the only expectation is victory.

Given that this is Misbah’s first match in charge, everything from the team selection to strategy will be scrutinised. It’s intriguing to see how the former Pakistan captain approaches the clash. Most importantly, a win is key to marking the beginning of a new era.

LIKELY XIs

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (C & WK) Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hasnain.

Sri Lanka: Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne (C), Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan.

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