Lahore: Pakistan will kick off their preparation for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup when they face an inexperienced Sri Lanka in the first game of the three-match series at Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday (today).
After the series against Sri Lanka, Pakistan will play three Twenty20 matches in Australia next month before hosting Bangladesh and later travelling to Ireland and England, all ahead of the T20 Asia Cup.
That gives Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men ideal preparation for the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in October and November next year.
Slarfaraz says the preparation was good but he is keeping his eye on Sri Lanka for now.
“We will not take them lightly,” said Sarfaraz.
“A Twenty20 match can be won by one good performance in batting and one in bowling, so we need to work hard to win the series.”
World’s top-ranked T20 team Pakistan enjoy a superior record against Sri Lanka, having beaten them in eight of the 13 matches they have played against each other to date.
They beat Sri Lanka in the final to win the 2009 T20 World Cup in England.
Sarfaraz is also one of the most successful captains in the shortest format, winning 29 of the 34 matches he has captained, losing only five.
Sri Lanka, who will be led by Dasun Shanaka, have a similar-looking squad to the one that played the One-day International series, which Pakistan had won 2-0.
They have the batsmen in their line-up who could put the runs on the board, but they need to contribute collectively.
Pakistan have a top-ranked T20 batsman in Babar Azam, while the recall of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal further boosts their batting.
But Shanaka, who was one of four players who came to Pakistan when Sri Lanka played a single T20 international in Lahore in 2017, was optimistic.
“I am happy to lead the team and we will do our best to put up a fight against our very strong hosts,” said Shanaka.
The remaining matches will be played on Monday and Wednesday, also in Lahore.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Angelo Perera, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Madushanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka
6:30 pm PST