DUBAI - Pakistan take on Sri Lanka in the second and final match of their Twenty20 series at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday riding on the confidence gained from their three-wicket win in the first game on Wednesday.
A clean sweep would lift Pakistan to the top of the ICC World T20 rankings and provide impetus for the upcoming one-day and Test series against the same opponents in the UAE and the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh through March and April next year.
The Sri Lankans can expect a full house of Pakistan supporters to pile the pressure on them with their age-old slogan — ‘If it is Friday, it has to be Pakistan’. Their skipper Dinesh Chandimal knows they will be up against it, but he refused to read too much into the defeat in the opening match. “These things happen and it is not the end of the world. We need to gather the pieces and win the next game. We will put our heart and soul into the practice session and come back strongly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez said his side would be looking to use the momentum gained from the first match to wrap up the series. “It is always important to start a series with a victory. This was our plan and, during our team meeting, we stressed on the importance of winning the first game.
“We knew that a victory could give us the momentum for the full series. My boys showed great character and we want them to continue to put their effort into the next game as well. If we win the next game and the Twenty20 series, it will help us in the One Day Internationals too.”
Sri Lanka mustered 145 for five, batting first on Wednesday, and Chandimal admitted that he would have liked his team to put more than 150 on the board. “We needed 10 to 15 runs more and our bowlers did not bowl in the right areas, giving away 10 to 20 extra runs. Our fielding at times was below par too,” he said.
“And after the end of the tenth over, the dew factor affected my bowlers. The ball also came on to the bat really well when Pakistan were batting. However, Pakistan won mainly due to Shahid Afridi’s cameo role. His knock was the turning point of the game and all credit to him,” Chandimal said.
Hafeez added: “We wanted to restrict them to under 150 or 140 runs and we knew if we did that we had a good chance. We know that as a batting unit we have some very good batsmen and, also, all-rounders like Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti and Shoaib Tanvir give us strength in the lower order, so we always believed that we could do it.”
Hafeez believes that the effort to create a winning combination for the T20 World Cup is on track. “The mega event [World Cup] is not far away and that is why we have tried out some of the new guys like Bilawal Bhatti, Sohaib Maqsood and Sharjeel Khan.
“As a team we want to see the seniors and juniors play together so that, before reaching the mega event, our juniors will get a nice feel of international cricket. I think my juniors are performing very well and have shown great character. At the same time, the seniors are also playing their role. I am delighted with the momentum we have earned.”