SHARJAH - In-form Pakistan are seeking to build on their recent thrilling one-day triumph in South Africa when they take on dangerous but rusty Sri Lanka in a five-match series starting in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday. Pakistan last month sealed their first-ever ODI series win against the Proteas, beating them 2-1 just weeks after a 4-1 drubbing against the same opposition in the UAE.
Skipper Misbah-ul Haq, whose side lie sixth in the one-day rankings, two places lower than Sri Lanka, hopes they can build on their confidence-building success, saying his players thrive under pressure. "We have good confidence before another tough series and we hope to carry the momentum we gained in South Africa," said Misbah.
"It is the Pakistan team's quality that they produce better results when they are under pressure. We were under pressure before the South Africa tour and when the confidence is better we play well," he added. But Misbah warned his side against complacency. "We must not relax," he said. "Complacency comes when you beat a bigger opponent so we must guard against that because Sri Lanka know these conditions well."
Pakistan will be without lanky paceman M Irfan -- who stands seven feet one inch (2.15 metres) tall -- after the bowler fractured his hip bone during the Twenty20 series against South Africa last month and was ruled out of the series. Sri Lanka will be missing former captain Mahela Jayawardene and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who both opted out of the one-dayers.
Sri Lanka have been frustrated by a lack of match practice after their drawn three-match ODI series against New Zealand last month was disrupted by rain. "We've done as much as we can to make sure we are sharp and ready but nothing's quite the same as being match-tight and match-sharp," said coach Graham Ford. "They have got an advantage from that point of view and they have got some fantastically talented cricketers," Ford added.
The Twenty20 series between the sides finished all square at 1-1. The remaining ODIs will be played in Dubai (December 20), Sharjah (December 22) and Abu Dhabi (December 25 and 27). The one-day series will be followed by three Tests.