all-rounder Shahid Afridi did his talking with the bat in the first T20I against Sri Lanka. Reuters
Pakistan will have the number one ranking in T20 cricket in their sights when they take on Sri Lanka in the second T20 international in Dubai.
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Pakistan, the designated home side, won the first T20 after a good bowling performance was backed by a decent batting one, with Shahid Afridi finally coming to the fore with the bat.
The Sri Lanka batsmen struggled to get away the Pakistani spinners in the first T20I and that particular statistic will need to change if the Island nation are to keep their world number one T20 ranking intact - Pakistan will be the new No.1 side if they beat Sri Lanka on Friday and with it take the two-match series 2-0.
"In the last year this pitch has been really slow, but this time the ball was coming nicely on to the bat," Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal said after the first T20 on Wednesday. "I think we were about 10-15 runs short as a batting side. After that, our bowlers didn't bowl in the right areas and we gave away some 10-20 runs. Our fielding was also below par. That's why I think we lost the game."
Dew will, no doubt, play a major factor, with Sri Lanka finding it difficult to grip the ball while bowling in the second innings. "After about 10 overs, the dew factor came into play," Chandimal added. "Then our spinners couldn't grip the ball. At that time, we couldn't bowl really well, and also the ball came onto the bat really well after 10 overs. The dew factor also contributed to us losing the game.
"We came to the ground on the previous night to check the dew, but last night there was no dew. We had a game plan, which was to bat first because they have some good bowlers, and we wanted to put the runs on the board and put pressure on them. In the end Shahid Afridi played a good cameo role. His innings was the turning point."
For Pakistan, it will be again about keeping things as tight as possible with the ball, with only Angelo Mathews able to get any sort of runs out of the tight green-coloured bowling ship.
Mohammed Hafeez will look forward to giving some of the youngsters like Bilawal Bhatti, Sohaib Maqsood and Sharjeel Khan another crack at international cricket, with the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh looming large.
"The mega-event is about to come, so that's why we tried some of the new guys," Hafeez said. "We are planning for the World Twenty20, and what we wanted was for seniors and juniors to play together. Going into the mega-event, the juniors will get a little bit of feel of international cricket, and they are performing very well and showing great character. At the same time the seniors are playing their role. We are happy with the momentum we are getting."
Expected lineups: Pakistan: Shehzad, Sharjeel, Hafeez (capt), Maqsood, U Akmal (wk), Afridi, Amin, Bhatti, Tanvir, Ajmal, Junaid.
Sri Lanka: Dilshan, Perera Sangakkara (wk), Chandimal (capt), Mathews, Perera, Prasanna, Kulasekara, Senanayake, Malinga, Mendis.
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