ABU DHABI: The white-ball cricket season is set to kick off Friday after a months-long hiatus following the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final held back in June in Oval, London.
Thursday evening brought with it the trophy exhibiting ceremony of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka One Day International (ODI) series — organised at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The trophy for the five-match series was unveiled by Sarfraz Ahmed — the captain of the Pakistan cricket team — alongside Sri Lanka’s Upul Tharanga.
Prior to the ceremony, Ahmed noted that new players have joined the squad, which, in turn, offers renewed energy for better performance in the ODI.
“Our one-day team is balanced and our record is quite good. We will have some senior players in the squad [this time] and I hope we play better cricket [this time],” he said.
Understanding the mounting pressure subsequent to losing his first Test series earlier, the captain promised an improved show in the limited-over matches.
Ahmed, however, revealed that youngster Imam ul Haq, fast-bowler Usman Shinwari, and middle-order batsman Haris Sohail will not among the playing XI against Sri Lankans.
Responding to a question by this correspondent, the stressed captain said the toss is not likely to impact the result, while weather — especially dew — can pose challenges.
The Dubai International Cricket Stadium’s management usually takes certain measures — including a spray — to minimise the dew’s effects. The rest, however, is up to the sportsmen.
Once the trophy was unveiled, Sri Lankan captain Tharanga expressed hopes for a decent game without their experienced cricketers Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga — the latter of whom was dropped from the ODI squad over fitness-and-form issues.
The remaining ODIs are slated for October 16 and 18 (in Abu Dhabi) and October 20 and 23 (Sharjah).
Pakistan’s playing XI for the first ODI: Sarfraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shahdab Khan, Hasan Ali, Ruman Raees, and Junaid Khan.