Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: First ODI Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Pakistan will be looking to bounce back from two disappointing Tests against Sri Lanka with a solid performance in the first ODI on Friday 13 October. 

Pakistan are afforded the chance to bounce back from a two-nil Test series defeat - and show exactly why they romped to the Champions Trophy title earlier this year.

Sri Lanka need to take their recent success in the longest form of the international game into the first of five ODIs, but again will be without several key players.

Pakistan v Sri Lanka | Friday, 13 October | Dubai International Cricket Stadium | 13:00

To Win Match
Pakistan 57/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 29/20

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Pakistan have not played ODI cricket since June, when they beat India in the final of the Champions Trophy, but had a good jaunt with the World XI in T20I competition less than a month ago. June's success in the United Kingdom coupled with September's triumph at home bodes well for a solid performance on Friday and beyond.

They will be without Mohammad Amir, who has been sidelined by injury. As much as the left-arm seamer's absence is a tough blow, the presence of Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali will keep the seam resources well stocked. The nephew of former captain and current chairman of selectors Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imam-ul-Haq, has also been included.

The 21-year-old batsman will bolster a batting order already relatively secure in the services of Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik and others. The young left-hander scored back-to-back centuries for Pakistan Under-23 earlier this year, so evident form rather than alleged nepotism is relevant here.

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed's primary role as a wicketkeeper-batsman will be judged. He remains sharp behind the stumps, but shoddy shot selection - particularly on the sweep - has cost him of late. While there is no need to eradicate the shot, he has vowed to reconsider his choice of stroke play at crucial junctures of the match.

Sri Lanka
With Danushka Gunathilaka suspended and Angelo Mathews injured, Sri Lanka will go into the series with a depleted squad. They, too, have opted to exclude Lasith Malinga. Plenty of responsibility, therefore, sits on the shoulders of Upul Tharanga, Suranga Lakmal and company. Tharanga's captaincy, again, will be under the spotlight - particularly his governance of over-rates.

Sri Lanka have not won an ODI since July - this stretch includes two defeats to Zimbabwe and a series whitewash at the hands of India. As much as the Test victories over Pakistan would have buoyed their confidence, the change in format needs to be negotiated and some swift, genuine changes in mode and approach will be on demand.

While they're no longer on the field, the Sri Lankans will soon have Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara back in advisory capacities. This will help immensely, particularly after the prompt resignation of Sanath Jayasuriya and hasty appointment of new chairman of selectors Graeme Labrooy. Jayawardene and Sangakkara, like they did with the bat, will bring cool, calm and collection to off-field decisions.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have met in ODI competition on 148 occasions, with the latter triumphant 58 times. Their recent ODI history, as is the case in Test matches, is highly unpredictable. Their last ODI outing in the gulf, though, brought victory for Sri Lanka - Dinesh Chandimal and Lakmal were key then. The same is necessary this time.

Verdict: Pakistan 57/100
A proud nation and team, Pakistan will dig deep to recover from the Test series - and rekindle the limited-overs form gathered in the Champions Trophy and against the World XI.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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