KARACHI: Pakistan will go into the third ODI against hosts Sri Lanka on Sunday looking to deal with the bowling suspension of Muhammad Hafeez and maintaining their place in the top-eight in the ICC ODI rankings.
The men in green are fighting it out with the West Indies for the final spot for the 2017 Champions Trophy and need to be above the Caribbean side in the ODI rankings come September if they are to qualify for the event.
The win in the first ODI allowed Pakistan to overtake the West Indies in the rankings but they were back to ninth after the loss in the second ODI. However, a win on Sunday will take them back into the top eight.
Former player Shoaib Muhammad believes that Pakistan must not allow morale to drop with just a single defeat as Sri Lanka played outstanding cricket to chase down the steep total in the second ODI.
“Pakistan are certainly playing good cricket right now and the unit looks assured,” Shoaib told The Express Tribune. “There are players who were part of the Test series win and they won the first ODI as well so the confidence is high. They lost the second game but it was more due to Sri Lanka playing outstanding cricket to chase down a competitive total rather than the Men in Green performing poorly. Pakistan have the capability to comeback well.”
However, the former selector admitted that the team will certainly miss the bowling of Hafeez and might struggle to contain runs.
He advised the team management to counter the loss with attacking changes in the batting order by promoting Sarfraz Ahmed to number four.
“I don’t know what the team management is up to as they are not giving proper opportunities to Sarfraz, who is a genuine match-winner,” said Shoaib. “By playing him at number seven, they are utilising only 50 per cent of his ability, whereas I personally feel he can win us matches while batting at number four.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.
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