Pakistan will eye a series-clinching win over Sri Lanka as the two sides get ready to meet in the third and final ODI at Karachi on Wednesday.
Sarfraz Ahmed and his men have one hand on the bilateral trophy after taking a 1-0 lead in the series and they will look to finish the job against the islanders to give head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq the perfect start to his tenure.
The hosts proved too good for the Lankans in the second ODI on Monday with Babar Azam’s 11th ton setting up a commanding win, but they will target further improvements with the ball after allowing the visitors to recover from a shaky start.
Sri Lanka had been reduced to 28-5 in their daunting run chase of 308 but were propelled by a 177-run stand for the sixth wicket between Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka to give the hosts an almighty scare.
“We have to improve our lines and lengths in the middle overs. The way we batted, the score was good,” skipper Sarfraz had stated after the 67-run win.
The wicketkeeper batsman has promised to ring the changes for Pakistan, which will come as welcome news for the likes of Mohammad Hasnain, Abid Ali and Mohammad Nawaz who missed the cut in Monday’s clash.
“We’ll try to give everyone a chance through this series, even the guys on our bench are first priority players for us,” Sarfraz explained.
For the rejigged visitors who are missing a host of star names such as Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunarante, Wednesday’s clash will be another opportunity for youngsters to grab their chance.
“It was a great effort by Shehan and Dasun,” stand-in skipper Lahiru Thirimanne said after the second ODI.
Pakistan batting ace @babarazam258 celebrated the return of ODI cricket to National Stadium Karachi by securing a spot on the NSK Honours Board. Well played Babar, we have more space available for you, seal it!#PAKvSL pic.twitter.com/1yaaHUUvRd— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) October 1, 2019
“Shehan took the chance and batted really well. It’s (Pakistan tour) a great opportunity, the youngsters should make the most of it.”
Should Pakistan be able to trumph in the third ODI, it will be their first bilateral series win over 14 months with their previous victory coming against Zimbabwe (5-0) in July last year.
The hosts will also hope for a better turnout at the National Stadium in Karachi after sparse crowds greeted the two teams in the second ODI. This is despite the clash being termed as international cricket’s homecoming to the city after a gap of nearly 10 years.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari, and Mohammad Hasnain.
Sri Lanka: Dasushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep.
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