Abu Dhabi - Pakistan will look to transfer the momentum from
their one-day whitewash against Sri Lanka into the three Twenty20
internationals starting in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and ending in Lahore three
Pakistan blanked Sri Lanka 5-0 in the preceding one-day
series and start the Twenty20 fixtures as strong favourites as the number
two-ranked side, with Sri Lanka a lowly eighth.
If Pakistan sweep the T20 series they will come within a
point of first-place New Zealand and could go top if India beat the Black Caps
in a three-match series next month.
Aside from winning nine straight ODIs since lifting the
Champions Trophy in June, Pakistan have also won nine of their last 11 Twenty20
internationals - all since Sarfraz Ahmed took over as captain.
Off the field too, Pakistan will hope to build on their
efforts to revive international cricket back home with the last match to be
played in Lahore on Sunday.
That contest will see the return of Sri Lanka to Pakistan,
eight years after their team bus was ambushed by gunmen on the way to the
ground in Lahore on March 3, 2009.
The attacks, which killed eight people and left seven Sri
Lankan players and a staff member injured, resulted in the suspension of all
international cricket in Pakistan, forcing them to play home matches in the
United Arab Emirates.
Despite Pakistan hosting the Pakistan Super League final in
March and three T20 internationals against a World XI - with players from seven
countries - last month, regular Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga and five other
players, as well as coach Nic Pothas refused to travel to Lahore.
That forced Sri Lankan selectors to hand all-rounder Thisara
Perera, part of the World XI, the captaincy and choose a new-look side.
But Ahmed said his team will not underestimate Sri Lanka.
"It's satisfying to win the ODIs and we will target
that same winning momentum but definitely we will not take Sri Lanka
lightly," said Ahmed.
"Maybe they don't have big names but their players have
played in the past and have done well. No team is weak in T20s, so we have to
be at our best."
Pakistan's pace bowling will be further boosted by the
return of Mohammad Amir who missed the ODIs with a shin injury.
Fill-in Sri Lanka skipper Perera hopes his team will put up
a good fight.
"I am really happy to be leading the team," said
Perera. "It's a dream come true for me and I hope this team can do
something special in this series."
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari, Umar Amin
Thisara Perera (captain), Dilshan Munaweera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Sachith Pathirana, Vikum Sanjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Chaturanga de Silva