Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, has urged his team to maintain a ruthless approach and the winning momentum in the second day-night One-Day International against Sri Lanka at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Monday (October 16).
Pakistan went 1-0 up in the five-match series with a clinical 83-run win in the first game in Dubai on Friday. Led by Babar Azam (103) and Shoaib Malik (81), the batsmen did their job by posting 292 for 6 in their 50 overs before Hasan Ali and Rumman Raees shared six wickets to keep Sri Lanka down to 209 for 8.
That result gave Pakistan a five-match winning streak, while Sri Lanka slumped to their eighth consecutive loss.
Sarfraz hoped his team would live up to expectations after the Champions Trophy triumph in June. “We did well in the first ODI,” said Sarfraz on Sunday. “We played well and the team gave an all-round performance, so the expectations are high for the second game as well. We have prepared well. It’s another important match and we will take it one match at a time.”
With seemingly all bases covered, it was no surprise that Sarfraz announced an unchanged XI for Monday’s game. But he called on his batsmen to be more proactive in the first ten overs.
“We missed a few things and would like to improve on that,” said Sarfraz. “We didn’t take very many singles in the first ten overs, so we have to address that.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan.
Sri Lanka (from): Upul Tharanga (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Seekuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay.
“It’s important to build the team towards the 2019 World Cup,” he added. “We are giving consistent chances to youngsters, and that will be the key towards that event.”
Nic Pothas, the Sri Lanka coach, urged his batsmen to stand up and be counted. “Obviously they ended up getting too many runs on that wicket,” he said of the first ODI. “From a batting point of view, the currency of your batting is runs. If you don’t keep making them, the shop is going to close down at some point.
“We have to ask the batters to take some responsibility. The top six batters managed 96 between them. One batter got 53 and you are not going to get too many (if that’s the case).”
Sri Lanka have now failed to post a 250-plus total in their last seven matches, and Pothas admitted that the team was low on confidence.
“Confidence is a big thing. When you lose two of the legends of your game, it is a massive thing but on the flip side, Pakistan have got very experienced players,” he pointed out. “They have won the Champions Trophy and they are flying high. We have to find answers, and find them quick.”
Sri Lanka might tinker with their bowling, bringing in Vishwa Fernando, the left-arm quick, for Lahiru Gamage.