Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st T20, Dubai December 11, 2013

SL wary of Pakistan's momentum


Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara and captain Dinesh Chandimal are wary of Pakistan's form and confidence ahead of the first Twenty20 in Dubai. Pakistan are fresh from limited-overs success in South Africa, where they won the second of the two Twenty20s, and two of the three ODIs. Pakistan also defeated Afghanistan in Sharjah, three days prior to the series-opener against Sri Lanka.

"Pakistan has played two high-quality series both here and in South Africa, so we know it's going to be tough. They know these conditions well," Sangakkara said.

"They have got a very balanced attack. Saeed Ajmal is the best offspinner in the world without a doubt, and you get some very unique fast bowlers with Pakistan as well. Mohammad Irfan is injured for the series, but he's been great for the game of cricket in general. You've also got Junaid Khan and the two new-founds, Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali. They have shown they can step up and perform. We know what we're in for, so it's a case of mentally conditioning ourselves to face what's coming up and win those little challenges."

Chandimal echoed Sangakkara's appraisal of Pakistan's form and said his team had devised specific plans to better defuse the threat of the Pakistan attack. Sri Lanka have not played a practice match in the UAE, but had been playing the early rounds of the domestic List A tournament at home, before the tour.

"They have played some really good cricket in South Africa," Chandimal said. "We aren't underestimating them - they've got a talented side. Last time we came here, we lost the T20 unfortunately. But we've had three practice sessions and everyone is in a good mental space, and we put our heart and soul into it."

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said the victory against Afghanistan had helped maintain the team's confidence after the South Africa series, but had also served as a reminder on the perils of leaking runs in the field, which had nearly cost them the match.

"We feel like we're carrying the momentum, right from the South Africa series. As a team we feel like we're playing very well. We had a good practice against Afghanistan in the last match as well. Sri Lanka are the No. 1 team in the rankings, so you can't write them off even though one or two players are missing."

Both teams will seek to settle their Twenty20 combinations, as the World Twenty20 approaches, and Sri Lanka's priority in this series will be to discern whether Ramith Rambukwella or Seekkuge Prasanna is the better slow-bowling allrounder for the purpose.

"At the moment Rangana Herath is the No. 1 bowler we have, but we've got to search for some young blood," Chandimal said. "We've only got two days before the World Twenty20, so our team will be based on what happens in the next few T20s, so that's why we need to find a spin-bowling allrounder. It's a good opportunity for everyone who is going to the Twenty20 world cup."

Hafeez said his side would also experiment with promising players. "Over the past few games we've been really getting the combination for the team, and trying some of the new youngsters in the squad. These two matches will also give us a chance to apply a couple of youngsters and try a couple of things."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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  • Android on December 11, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    insha ALLAH pakistan win today

  • Android on December 11, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    today IN SHAA ALLAH we saw pak team confidence in ground and creat a history before t20 world cup

  • Muhammad on December 11, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    My team today Shahzad, sharjeel, Maqsood, akmal,hafeez,amin, afridi, Bhatti, tanvir,ajmal,junaid. However there is no place for amin and tanvir, but as there in squad than its OK. And Mr. Prof don't send Maqsood at no 5 coz he is the man who played good inns against quality bowling at no 3. Don't ruin this young player

  • Android on December 11, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    Best of luck to both teams today. Hope Sri Lanka could make a difference here

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    i think sri Lanka is best team .but against Pakistan sri lanka is not good as much ,i don,t say that sri lanka is not good team.sri lanka team is always gave tough time to any team in the world . Pakistan want to play with same strategy to win all the series best of luck Pakistan.

  • Nabeel on December 11, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Pakistan have got settled combination now in almost every format. Azhar, Younis, Misbah, Asad in tests, Hafeez, Ahmad, Sohaib, Misbah, Akmal in odi and Hafeez, Ahmad, Sohaib, Akmal in t20. Well bowling is always stable for pakistan. Bhatti has also cemented his place in odi and T20.

  • Dummy on December 11, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Pakistan need to be positive after showing good performance with SA

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Well ... hope both team finds some form before t20 world cup. Right now they must play the best they could. No time for experiments take the best men out and let them play.

  • udendra on December 11, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    SL is so focused on the world T20 that don't be surprised if they get thrashed in the Tests.

  • daya on December 11, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    Our(SL) t20 & odi sides seem okay even in future. But real concern is future of our test cricket. since murali's retire our test record is really poor. Actually we dont have bowlers who can take 20 test wicket against top quality team. herath still doing that alone but that is in srilankan pitches.

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