Pakistan takes on Sri Lanka at home.
That should be the big news. It isn’t. Opposition captain Lahiru Thirimanne was adamant that cricket, not security is the focus. But it’s a hard sell, really. Ten Sri Lankan players decided not to visit Pakistan. Full-strength Sri Lankan teams have not been competitive on a consistent basis for a fairly long time. With this one, the signs aren’t great.
Almost all these Sri Lankan players have played international cricket before. But that is down to the trigger happiness of the Sri Lankan selectors rather than the quality of these players. While the bowling looks relatively stronger, batting has been quite an issue. Apart from a couple of young talented batsmen, things look bleak for Sri Lanka. Especially, considering Karachi’s surprising, scratch that, shockingly prolonged monsoon.
No one knows how it would impact the out-field or the pitch. When asked, Sarfaraz about the rain and its impact Sarfaraz used the infamous line “Jab Barish hoti hai pani ata hai”. It kind off reflects how relaxed he is ahead of the game. Playing in his home town would certainly feel special. But what can Pakistan expect to achieve?
Given that Misbah ul Haq has pretty much stuck with the tried and tested, the only really new cog in the machine might be Iftikhar Ahmed. He does deserve his chance, and if he is able to perform, it would help in balancing the team in the long run. However, the fast bowling all-rounder slot will remain open. Considering the strength of the Sri Lankan side, perhaps bringing back Faheem Ashraf or even trying Amir Yamin would have made sense.
Nevertheless, the focus of the series is perhaps proving to the world and those 10 Sri Lankan players that the country is safe enough to play cricket in. To ensure that the upcoming two test matches are played in Pakistan and most top Sri Lankan players make the trip. A successful tour will bring more than cricketing gains for Pakistan