As Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka finally comes to an end on Saturday, the men in green will be looking to finish it off in an emphatic fashion, seeking a clean sweep of the T20 series after registering an easy victory in the first match.
After struggling in Sri Lanka for the last 10 years, the touring side turned around its fortunes first by winning the Test series 2-1 under the captaincy of Misbahul Haq and then followed it by a 3-2 triumph in the ODIs with Azhar Ali at the helm.
The visitors now have a chance for a clean sweep if Shahid Afridi can lead his side to a win in Colombo.
Former cricketer and National Cricket Academy (NCA) head coach Mohammad Akram believes Pakistan are capable of going for a whitewash. “It has been a good tour for Pakistan so far and I feel our men can finish it on a high this tomorrow [Saturday],” Akram told The Express Tribune at the National Stadium in Karachi.
“You can see that the players have a tremendous amount of self-belief because Pakistan have been on top of Sri Lanka ever since the tour started. The combination looks really good and the team has gelled well.”
Akram also had a special mention for Mohammad Irfan, who bowled with plenty of pace in the first T20 as compared to the ODIs, stressing that the lanky pacer must be given some rest in order to remain fresh enough to bowl with a full throttle.
One player who will be under heavy scrutiny in the T20 series in opener Mukhtar Ahmed, who had exploded into the international arena with quickfire knocks against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Asked whether the officials believe Mukhtar’s real test is against the likes of Sri Lanka where his technique and temperament will be tested, Akram said he felt the opener had struggled in the first T20 against the seam movement but still had faith in the ‘brave batsman’ who had a bright future ahead.
“You have to give time to any player you identify as a good prospect. It’s good to see that the team management is keen on backing players who have this potential, like they are doing with Anwar Ali and now Immad Wasim. Even if they fail, at least they the players cannot say ‘we were not given a fair chance’.”
Ex-cricketers angry at
decision to drop Sarfraz
Some former cricketers have shown their disapproval of Afridi and head coach Waqar Younis’ decision to drop vice-captain Sarfraz Ahmed from the first match.
Ex-opener Shoaib Mohammad termed the decision as ridiculous since Sarfraz has been a match-winner and is also the vice-captain. “I don’t know what Afridi and Waqar are thinking by dropping their best performer since the start of 2014. He is also the vice-captain of the team and a genuine match-winner but yet experiments are being made on his position,” Shoaib lamented.
Meanwhile, Moshin Khan added that Sarfraz is a rare world-class batsman and it was beyond his understanding as to why his confidence is being shattered.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.
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