T20I series preview: Pakistan v Sri Lanka

News

Twenty20 International series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka invariably delivers colourful, competitive cricket – and this week's two-match series in Dubai should continue these characteristics.

Twenty20 International series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka invariably delivers colourful, competitive cricket – and this week's two-match series in Dubai should continue these characteristics.

Pakistan were not at their best during a one-off T20I against Afghanistan last week. The rested Saeed Ajmal's absence was telling – and possibly acknowledged an over-reliance on the spinner.

Ajmal's return taken into account, Pakistan have a couple of other corrections to introduce – if they are not to squander another opportunity to rise to the helm of the International Cricket Council's T20I rankings.

A belated call-up for the uncapped Usman Khan, indeed, has bolstered bowling resources depleted by the lanky Mohammad Irfan's injury. The batsmen, meanwhile, need to shake off a collective inability to convert good starts into innings of numerical significance.

The United Arab Emirates has largely been good to Pakistan this year and, although ODI skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has suggested stress-related homesickness among the ranks, the region is theirs to make their own once again.

Sri Lanka will be without the veteran Mahela Jayawardene. In the build-up to next year's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, this is the ideal opportunity for the bench strength and youngsters to come to the proverbial party in the stalwart's absence.

Pressure remains on captain Dinesh Chandimal. Opinions are split on whether or not he is the man for the job, but a glance at recent statistics show the official leadership is taking its toll on his primary role with the bat.

2012's three T20Is between the sub-continental big guns didn't bring a single victory for the team batting second and, in similar conditions, opting to bat first again seems the correct direction.

<b>Key Men</b><br><b>Mohammad Hafeez</b> has been dismissed from the Test unit and is waning in the ODI fold, but remains an integral cog to the T20I machine, with both bat and ball.

With Jayawardene out of the equation for now, and Dilshan contemplating eventual retirement, opportunity knocks for the talented <b>Kusal Perera</b> to establish a permanent berth.

<b>Last Three Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012: WT20 semi-final: Sri Lanka won by 16 runs in Colombo<br>2012: Second T20I: Pakistan won by 23 runs in Hambantota<br>2012: First T20I: Sri Lanka won by 37 runs in Hambantota

<b>Prediction</b><br>Sri Lanka make too much of the importance of all-rounders, while Pakistan prefer specialists in key positions – and are likely to reap the benefits for this.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Pakistan:</i> Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Ahmed Shahzad, Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal (wicketkeeper), Shahid Afridi, Zulfiqar Babar, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Haris Sohail, Usman Khan.

<i>Sri Lanka:</i> Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Seekkuge Prasanna, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Ramith Rambukwella.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, 11 December<br>Second T20I: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, 11 December

Latest