Colombo, July 29
Sri Lanka will look to prevent a clean sweep by Pakistan on the current tour when they clash in two Twenty20 internationals in Colombo on Thursday and Saturday.
Pakistan won the preceding Test series 2-1 and also clinched the one-dayers 3-2 to earn a double triumph in the island nation for the first time since 2006. But Sri Lanka, the reigning World Twenty20 champions and the top-ranked side in the shortest format, get a chance to salvage pride in the two end-of-tour games at the Premadasa stadium.
Both sides wear a fresh look under new captains, with sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga leading Sri Lanka and veteran Shahid Afridi taking over at the helm for fifth-ranked Pakistan. While Malinga has retired from Test cricket and played in four of the five one-dayers, Afridi has quit the other two formats and will make his first appearance on the tour. With the next World Twenty20 in India just eight months away, both sides have blooded new players to give them experience in the nuances of T20 cricket.
Sri Lanka’s 15-man squad includes five uncapped players in batsmen Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva, fast bowler Binura Fernando and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay. Test and one-day regulars Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne have been omitted, but seasoned seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has been recalled after being ignored for the one-day series.
“We need to get the younger brigade in the stream so that we have a gradual transition leading up to the next World T20 and the 50-over World Cup beyond that,” Sri Lanka’s chief selector Kapila Wijegunawardene was quoted as saying in local media. “We need to put them on the ground and see how they perform.”
Afridi is one of five players set to contest the T20 series who did not feature for Pakistan in either the Test or one-day matches. Left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz, sidelined with a fractured hand since the second Test, will be replaced by another left-arm quick Zia-ul-Haq. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who picked up 24 wickets in the three Tests, returns to the Twenty20 fold after four years, while 33-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Irfan has also been picked.