Image courtesy of: Zimbio
“We know it’s going to be tough”
Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Dinesh Chandimal and veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara have both announced that they wary of what Pakistan are capable of following their impressive performance against South Africa, which saw them draw the Twenty20 series 1-1 and win the ODI series 2-1.
Pakistan also defeated Afghanistan by six wickets in a one-off Twenty20 International in Sharjah just three days ago.
“Pakistan has played two high-quality series both here and in South Africa, so we know it’s going to be tough,” Sangakkara said. “They know these conditions well.
“They have got a very balanced attack. Saeed Ajmal is the best off-spinner 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 agreed with Sangakkara’s comments and added that Sri Lanka have started forming plans on how to dismiss Pakistan’s batsmen and render their bowling attack useless.
“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.”
Chandimal also admitted that Sri Lanka need to find a permanent spinner to help support Rangana Herath.
“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 [three months] 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 all-rounder. It’s a good opportunity for everyone who is going to the Twenty20 world cup.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan Twenty2o skipper Mohammad Hafeez stated that his side’s confidence levels were sky-high after their victory against Afghanistan.
But, he also conceded that they need to work on their bowling and fielding as they only won the match with one ball to spare.
“We feel like we’re carrying the momentum, right from the South Africa series,” Hafeez said. “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.”
Hafeez added that Pakistan will continue to experiment with new players in order to find talented youngsters who can lead the team in the future.
“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,” he said. “These two matches will also give us a chance to apply a couple of youngsters and try a couple of things.”