Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: First T20 Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will go head to head in a T20 International to be hosted by the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Thursday 26 October.  

Pakistan are beaming with confidence on the back of a five-nil ODI series whitewash over the same opposition - and will be determined to continue their limited-overs dominance.

Sri Lanka will head into the three-match affair with a squad lined with significant changes in personnel, who will struggle to outdo opposition six positions superior in the T20I rankings.

Pakistan v Sri Lanka | Thursday, 26 October | Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi | 18:00

To Win Match
Pakistan 31/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 49/20

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Pakistan's last foray into Twenty20 cricket was two months ago, when a World XI - lined with fringe and yesteryear stars - visited for three matches. That series resulted in a two-one triumph for the home side, who are currently only second to New Zealand in the International Cricket Council's T20I rankings.

Umar Amin, Faheem Ashraf and Aamer Yamin have been retained, while Mohammad Hafeez has been recalled. Hafeez, though, is currently under investigation for a suspected illegal bowling action. Sohail Khan, meanwhile, was overlooked - and Mohammad Amir selected subject to fitness. Amir, indeed, is in a race against time.

Pakistan have played just five T20Is at Thursday's venue, winning twice. Their last victory here was in 2016, against the West Indies - and the other against Sri Lanka, in 2011. Papua New Guinea, four months ago against the United Arab Emirates, proved on a couple of occasions that this is a great venue to successfully chase relatively big scores.

Babar Azam will again be a key batting figurehead. The rest of the order can bat around the in-form Azam, who has a great stretch of form against Sri Lanka recently to go on - and the glut of runs he collected in the T20Is against the World XI. On a bowling front, that man Hasan Ali has some really good numbers in ODI cricket to convert to equal success in the shortest format.

Sri Lanka
While the first two T20Is will be played in the UAE, the third and final will be hosted in Lahore, Pakistan, where a string of Sri Lankans have refused to travel - and have therefore been dropped for the entire series. Captain Upul Tharanga is among them, leaving Thisara Perera to lead a squad littered with forced changes.

Perera, in fact, is the country's seventh captain this year, after Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera. Upheaval is rife, but hasn't been helped by chief selector Graeme Labrooy's decision to spite those who didn't want to go to Lahore.

Tharanga, Akila Dananjaya, Wanindu Hasaranga, Niroshan Dickwella, Suranga Lakmal, Malinga and the injured Mathews are out, while Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Minod Bhanuka, Sachith Pathirana, Lahiru Gamage, Vishwa Fernando and Chathuranga de Silva are in.

The most notable inclusions are batsman Gunathilaka, who has been recalled after serving a suspension, and the promising Samarawickrama. Uncapped wicketkeeper Bhanuka should walk straight into the XI in the absence of Chandimal - and batsman Udawatte is in line for his first international cap in eight years.

Verdict: Pakistan 31/100
Sri Lanka have won just five of their 15 T20Is against Pakistan - and not one in the last four years. Their last T20I meeting at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium resulted in victory for the adopted hosts - and the same is likely on Thursday.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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