Sri Lanka v Pakistan T20I series preview: Rare occasion for Pakistanis to sweep Sri Lanka in their den

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Sri Lanka will depend on its openers to give them an edge over Pakistan in the T20I series. (Photo Source: AFP)

Sri Lanka v Pakistan T20I series preview: Rare occasion for Pakistanis to sweep Sri Lanka in their den: After clinching the Test and ODI series, the Pakistan team is all set to take on Sri Lanka in a two-match T20I series. Pakistani team is marching to the series with a lot of momentum and self-belief as they have outplayed the home side firstly in the Test series by 2-1 and then in ODI series by 3-2. Pakistan will be looking to thwart the Lankan lions in the T20 series as well to complete a rare feat of defeating Sri Lanka in all the formats of the game in a bilateral tour and that too at their own backyard.

The two-match T20I series will commence from 30th July. The first T20 match will be played at Colombo while the second encounter will take place on 1st August at the same venue. So far, the Sri Lankan team has seemed to be on back foot in the tour as they have a relatively young side which has only got debilitated after the departure of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara from the colourful jerseys. And that was ever so evident in the ODI series as well.

Sri Lanka:

The dip in the form of Angelo Matthews has been a major concern for the home side as the seniors are the ones who are expected to smoothen this transition period. Though, in the last ODI match, Matthews played a heck of a knock as he amassed a 40 ball 70 run knock and seemed to getting back to his best. While, the form of the Sri Lankan T20I captain Lasith Malinga has taken a major dip after the surgery on his left ankle before the World Cup 2015. Since, then Slinga Malinga has been a shadow of the bowler, we know. The horrendous effects of Malinga’s inefficiency rubbed on the Sri Lankan team in the ODI’s as well as they are heavily reliant on him with no spinner as such stepping up to the plate.

The Sri Lankan team is the top ranked side of the format and it will be the first T20I match in Sri Lanka after last year they triumphed to the World T20 glory under Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan team has a lot of fresh legs in the squad. They have included all-rounders like Milinda Siriwardana, Dhasun Shanaka and Shehan Jayasuriya in the team as they have performed excellently in the domestic arena and will complement the experienced Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera in the all-rounders department. While the left-arm pacer Binura Fernado will give the much-needed impetus to their bowling attack. In batting the onus will be on the veteran Dilshan as well as on the likes of Kusal Perera, Mathews and Chamara Kapugedera.

Pakistan:

The Pakistani team looks settled and will only get boosted with the arrival of their T20I skipper Shahid Afridi. The player of the series in ODI’s against Sri Lanka, Mohammad Hafeez looks in sublime touch as he transforms into a giant killer whenever he faces the Sri Lankan’s. Pakistan’s top-order looks belligerent with the likes of Ahmed Shehzad and the famed boy of Zimbabwe T20I series Mukhtar Ahmed in their ranks with the experienced Hafeez slated to play at no.3. While, experienced campaigners Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal will be the cog-wheel of Pakistan’s middle order. The lower-order of team is lashed with firepower of Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan and Shahid Afridi.

The Pakistani bowling line-up also appears to be lethal with the likes of Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali and Yasir Shah in their side. Off-late Yasir Shah has been the paramount threat to the Sri Lankans while Anwar Ali’s variations have proved too hot to handle for the Lankans. Pakistan has added the 20 year-old pacer Zia-ul-Haq in place of Wahab Riaz which gives depth to their dominion pool of pacers.

Players to watch out for:

Mukhtar Ahmed, the aggressive Pakistani opener derailed the Zimbabweans in T20I series when he hammered back-to-back half-centuries in the two-match T20I series in Pakistan. Mukhtar would be looking to continue his purple match when he takes on the Sri Lankans at Colombo.

Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lankan Test and ODI skipper didn’t fare as well as he would have liked in the tour so far. Now, Mathews will try to reduce the blemishes of the earlier defeats in the tour by transforming his dominant form of the last ODI to the first match of the T20I series.

Pakistan T20I squad:

Ahmed Shehzad, Nauman Anwar, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Shahid Afridi (capt), Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz/Zia-ul-Haq.

Sri Lanka T20I squad:

Lasith Malinga (Capt), TM Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kithruwan Vithanage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Kulasekara, Binura Fernando, Chaturanga de Silva, Milinda Siriwardene.

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