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Dubai: Dec 10, 2013
Pakistan, fourth in the Twenty20 rankings, are also aiming to topple Sri Lanka from the top of the standings by winning both matches, the second of which takes place on Friday.
“Sri Lanka are a top side so this is in itself a motivation to beat the number one side and if we win both it will lift us to the top of the world,” Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said.
If the series is a 1-1 draw the teams will maintain their current rankings while a 2-0 loss would push Hafeez’s team down to fifth.
Pakistan go into the matches well prepared after playing four Twenty20 games against South Africa last month.
They also overcame tough resistance from minnows Afghanistan by six wickets in a last ball thriller in Sharjah on Sunday — the first Twenty20 between the two countries.
Pakistan will be at full strength and boosted by the return of magician off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who skipped Sunday’s game to rest back home.
“We leaked quite a few runs against Afghanistan so we will have to be at our best to beat Sri Lanka and Ajmal’s return will help that,” said Hafeez, who was man of the match against Afghanistan for his 42 not out.
Sri Lanka, led by Dinesh Chandimal, will have to overcome rustiness after most of their recent matches at home were ruined by rain.
Last month they beat New Zealand 1-0 with the other match abandoned because of inclement weather.
“The advantage Pakistan’s got is that they have played a lot of international cricket in the last six-eight months whereas unfortunately we haven’t played nearly as much because of weather and various other things,” said coach Graham Ford.
Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake are the two specialist spinners in the bowling department which is spearheaded by paceman Lasith Malinga.
Pakistan finished runners-up in the first World Twenty20 held in South Africa in 2007 before winning the title in England two years later.
Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s — a defeat which Sri Lanka avenged by winning the semi-final in Colombo on their way to finishing runners-up in the fourth edition last year.
The fifth edition will be held in Bangladesh from March 16 to April 6.
Pakistan’s selectors added 19 year-old left-arm paceman Usman Shinwari to the squad after his impressive performance at domestic level.
Shinwari took 5-9 in National Twenty20 championship final on December 3 in Lahore, which also included Pakistan’s one-day and Test captain Misbah-ul Haq’s scalp.
Pakistan (Probable): Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez (c), Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Zulfiqar Babar, Junaid Khan.
Sri Lanka (Probable): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kushal Janith Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal(c), Thisara Perera, Ramith Rambukwella, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis
Time: 20.00 local | 21.30 IST
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