Pakistan are looking to bounce back from a crushing loss in the series opener as they lock horns with Sri Lanka in the second T20I between the two sides at Lahore.
The hosts were shocked by 64-runs in the first T20I on Saturday by what is a second-string Sri Lanka side missing key senior stars such as Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews.
With the series on the line in front of their home fans, Sarfraz Ahmed and his men will look to give a much better account of themselves at the Gaddafi stadium as they seek to justify their No1 billing the format.
Will the hosts be able to square the series at Lahore or will Sri Lanka’s young guns provide another surprise? Find out by following the ball-by-ball LIVE updates from the Gaddafi stadium below.
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Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik wrote himself into the record books after becoming only the fourth batsman in history to breach the 9,000-run barrier in T20 cricket.
The 37-year-old attained the feat on Sunday in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2019 Qualifier 1 clash between Guyana Amazon Warriors and Barbados Tridents at Providence.
The Guyana skipper registered a brisk 19-ball 32 to help his side emerge victors by 30 runs in the CPL clash and qualify for Sunday’s final. The Pakistan all-rounder has been in fine form throughout the campaign for his side with a total of 313 runs which have come at a stellar average of 78.25.
Malik’s exploits have helped the Warriors maintain a perfect record in CPL 2019 with the side blazing their way to 10 wins in as many matches in the league-stage to book their place in the play-offs.
Malik is now only the fourth batsman to reach the special landmark of 9,000 runs with Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and Kieron Pollard being the previous players to attain the feat.
The veteran, along with Mohammad Hafeez, was not called up for Pakistan’s ongoing T20I series against Sri Lanka at Lahore although he remains available to play for his country in the format.
Malik had a poor campaign for Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup in England before being dropped from the playing XI. The Pakistan man subsequently announced his retirement from the ODI format but maintained that he was looking to play in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
The Pakistan comebacks of Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad might not have gone to plan but skipper Sarfraz Ahmed feels that the decision to bring back the two controversial players back from the cold was the right one.
Akmal made his first T20I appearance for Pakistan in over three years in Saturday’s 64-run loss to Sri Lanka at Lahore while Shehzad made his comeback as well after serving his suspension for a doping violation.
Many had questioned the logic behind giving the two talented, but highly inconsistent batsmen, another shot at international cricket and the duo only provided more ammunition to their detractors with displays to forget in the crushing loss.
While Akmal was dismissed for a golden duck, Shehzad lasted just nine deliveries in which he scored the mere four runs. Despite their failures with the bat, Sarfraz has given the duo his full backing as captain.
“If you talk about previous two domestic seasons, they were performers and they were again performers in the Pakistan Super League,” the Pakistan skipper had stated after the first T20I against Sri Lanka.
“We are trying our fullest to give a complete chance to those who are brought back. There is nothing to worry. Both are experienced players and once they settle in, they will perform. So, my full backing for them as a captain.”
Akmal and Shehzad’s selections in the playing XI for the first T20I came at the expense of Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail who both had to contend for a place on the bench.
Justifying the decision to drop the two in-form batsmen, Sarfraz said, “Fakhar and Haris both have been part of the team for some time now.”
“When we brought back Ahmed and Umar, we intended to make them play in their own positions. Had we played Fakhar, then Ahmed would have been made to play at one down. Me and Misbah bhai (Misbah-ul-Haq) decided to try Ahmed as an opener.
“With our eyes on the 2020 T20 World Cup, if Ahmed is able to settle himself at this (opening) number, we can never find a better player than him.
“Similar with Umar Akmal. We wanted to play him in his number and hence had to drop Haris, who we have seen and have no doubt about his ability.”
Sarfraz and head coach cum chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq will now hope that Akmal and Shehzad can seize their chance when Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in the second T20I at Lahore on Monday.