Former champions Pakistan and Sri Lanka will face off at the World Cup in Hyderabad this Tuesday, providing an opportunity for former coach Mickey Arthur to reconnect with players he nurtured between December 2019 and November 2021.
Arthur expressed his familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of the Sri Lankan team, revealing that they have devised strategic plans to counter their opponents. He emphasized the danger posed by Sri Lanka and stressed the need for Pakistan to be at their best to secure a victory.
In their previous match in Hyderabad, the national squad managed to overcome a shaky start, recovering from a precarious 38-3 to post a formidable total of 286 runs, with standout performances from Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan, both scoring half-centuries. Pakistan subsequently bowled out the Netherlands for 205 runs in 41 overs.
Despite acknowledging that their performance was not exceptional, Arthur expressed his satisfaction with the team’s first win. He praised the players for stepping up when it mattered most.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s match, Pakistan is expected to retain the same lineup, showing faith in out-of-form opener Fakhar Zaman, who could not perform well against the Netherlands. Arthur expressed confidence in Zaman’s abilities, believing that he is just one innings away from regaining his form.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, faced a setback in their opening game against South Africa, where they conceded a record-breaking 428-5 and suffered a 102-run defeat in New Delhi. However, they will draw confidence from their recent two-wicket victory over Pakistan, which secured their place in the Asia Cup final in Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s skipper, Dasun Shanaka, acknowledged the challenges posed by the absence of three key bowlers due to injuries. Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga have been ruled out of the tournament, while Maheesh Theekshana remains with the squad but is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Despite these setbacks, Shanaka praised his team’s positive intent with the bat and a promising performance in the initial ten overs with the ball against South Africa.