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October 9, 2019

Pakistan seek to avoid whitewash

Sports

October 9, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan seek to avoid the ignominy of being whitewashed in an international series on their home ground by what most people called a second-string Sri Lanka when they take the field in the third and final T20I at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, on Wednesday (today).

Interestingly, Sri Lanka had lost their four most-recent T20I series despite having the services of all their top cricketers. And Pakistan started the series at the top of the T20I rankings. Seven members of Sri Lanka’s XI had played fewer than ten T20s at the start of the series.

Sri Lanka have never won a T20I series 3-0. And Pakistan have never been whitewashed 3-0 in T20Is. The two matches so far have followed a remarkably similar script. Sri Lanka have got a half-century and a big partnership from their top three, then a strong finish. Their quicks have then struck early blows, and despite the occasional good partnership from Pakistan, Sri Lanka have managed to keep the required rate climbing through the middle overs.

In the first match, Pakistan’s last seven wickets fell for 33. In the second, their last five went down for 20. Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad, recalled on the basis of their form in domestic cricket, have produced four awful innings between them. Akmal got out first ball in both matches. Shehzad played 25 Powerplay deliveries for his 17 runs across the two games.

Babar Azam, Pakistan’s most prolific batsmen over the last few years, surprisingly failed to score big in both matches. Part of Pakistan’s good T20I form in 2018 had been down to the bowlers. Mohammad Amir, who took 14 wickets at 15.50, going at 6.57 in nine appearances last year, has failed to take a wicket through the first two matches in Lahore. With a confident opposition top three to contend with, Pakistan need their quick bowlers to fire in the last match.

In all four of Sri Lanka’s innings on tour, Dasun Shanaka has played good knocks befitting the situation, finding late boundaries when Sri Lanka are looking to finish fast, and rebuilding when they have lost early wickets. He had been disappointed to miss out on a World Cup spot but has perhaps now done enough to firm up a place in the first-choice XI in both limited-overs formats.

Iftikhar Ahmed, who impressed many in the ODI series played in Karachi, is expected to replace Umar and Haris Sohail is likely to replace Shehzad. —with inputs from agencies

Match starts

at 6:30 pm (PST)

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