KARACHI: After being whitewashed in the Test series by Sri Lanka, Sarfraz Ahmed and his men need to come back strongly in the ODI series if they are to save themselves from further embarrassment as attention turns to the five-match series that starts on Friday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
For their part, the visitors will be out to avenge the defeat in the Champions Trophy that saw the Men in Green progress at their expense.
And former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq told The Express Tribune that the team must perform better in the ODIs since they are up against a Sri Lanka side that is now filled with confidence.
“The Sri Lankan players go into the series on a high after winning the Test series 2-0,” he said. “They had just gotten whitewashed by India in the last series in what was a very limp showing but they were much improved here and are now have wind in their sails. It is clear now that the Sri Lankan team cannot be taken lightly since they refuse to lie down and take it.”
However, Razzaq still believes the hosts have the stronger side on paper. “[Pace spearhead] Muhammad Amir will be missed in the bowling attack but Pakistan still have quite a few pacers that can make the difference on their day,” he said.
Razzaq feels in the absence of Amir, Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan need to step up to the plate, adding that the two should only look to take wickets while the other bowlers should be focusing more on containment.
Meanwhile, former Test batsman Yasir Hameed urged the Pakistan openers to have a go at the bowling right from the off in a bid to provide the team with some much-needed momentum at the top of the innings.
“The opening partnership has a really big impact on the rest of the batting line and a good one really puts the opposing team under pressure,” he said. “If they lose an early wicket, however, then they can be more circumspect and try and keep themselves in the game.”
Yasir singled out the hero in the Champions Trophy final, Fakhar Zaman, as the man to deliver the required positive start to the game.
“All eyes will be on Zaman and everyone will be expecting a similar performance from him. There will therefore be added pressure on him to deliver now that the fans have seen what he is capable of,” said Yasir. “Ahmad Shahzad needs to perform if he is to stay in the side though.
Yasir believes the middle-order needs to adapt depending on the kind of start the openers provide. “They will have to understand the team’s situation and then play accordingly. Pakistan are a good team and I think they will be able to cope with the pressures to claim the series.”