Can Sri Lanka retain the Test form?

Rex Clementine reporting from Dubai

Sri Lanka have outperformed Pakistan in the two-match Test series and it remains to be seen whether they can replicate the same form when it comes to ODI cricket. Some of the experienced players of Pakistan will return to the ODI squad like Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. Also back will be Pakistan’s hero during the Champions Trophy campaign – Fakhar Saman.

Sri Lanka have lost their last seven ODIs, a poor run that saw them struggling to qualify for the 2019 World Cup. This year, they have played 21 ODIs and won only four.

"The Test team had the hunger to perform well. The players who have come into the ODIs should have the same hunger. We spoke a lot about how they won. We didn’t win the Test series by planning for just one day. The plans were laid down days ahead and the players and support staff took a lot of pain to earn this success," Sri Lanka’s ODI captain Upul Tharanga told journalists

The last time these two sides met was in the Champions Trophy and it was a painful memory for Sri Lanka as they came so close, but a couple of dropped catches let Pakistan off the hook and they went onto win the trophy.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was reminded of the catch during yesterday’s media briefing. "I will remember it for the rest of my life and Thisara Perera will remember it for the rest of his life," Sarfraz said.

Tharanga was also questioned about the inclusion of Chamara Kapugedera in the squad. The issue has been hotly debated in cricket circles as Kapugedera was even dropped from his club team – Sinhalese Sports Club – last season.

"When he was dropped from the SSC team, he was not in the national team. After that he did not play in ODIs, but he played in T-20s. He performed well in Australia after that. He did well in the provincial tournament. That’s the reason why he was selected for Champions Trophy. He played only one match and was injured. His stats aren’t great, but this is an important ODI series for him."

Tharanga will also have to keep an eye on the over rate. He has been suspended twice in the last five months and another slow over rate offence will lead to a six match ban.

"We had discussed it amongst the players. You can’t blame one player for it and the entire team must take responsibility. We need to finish our overs in time and it will be crucial for me as captain to maintain a good over rate," remarked Tharanga.

Pakistan have not played any ODI cricket since their triumph in Champions Trophy in June. "This is our first match after the win. Hopefully we will keep the same momentum and play like that," Sarfraz said.


Pakistan (From):

Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hashan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rumman Raees, Usman Khan and Shoaib Malik.

Sri Lanka (From):

Upul Tharanga (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardene, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage and Seekkuge Prasanna.


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