World Cup 2023: Pakistan set for face-off with Sri Lanka today

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Pakistans Haris Rauf celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Netherlands captain Scott Edwards during the 2023 ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on October 6, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan’s Haris Rauf celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Netherlands’ captain Scott Edwards during the 2023 ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on October 6, 2023. — AFP

Pakistan Tuesday is set for a face-off with Sri Lanka in the ongoing ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium.

Albeit an unsteady start, Pakistan won its first game in the mega cricket event against the Netherlands following a substandard Asia Cup 2023 campaign, as they earlier faced defeats in both warm-up matches against New Zealand and Australia.

Despite being unimpressive in recent games, the Green Shirts’ head coach Grant Bradburn is hopeful of performance by the team’s top-order batting.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the match against Sri Lanka in Hyderabad, Bradburn highlighted that the team’s focus on continuous improvement.

“We’re becoming confident as a group and as a coaching staff. We’re very keen on critiquing our performance, especially when we win,” the head coach said.

Reflecting on Pakistan’s preparation for the game against Sri Lanka, Bradburn agreed that the islanders had an upper hand over Pakistan in recent white-ball encounters but emphasised that players have become very familiar.

“We know their players very, very well. We have a secret weapon in Mickey Arthur, who has coached them before. So, in meetings this morning, Mickey was a very handy addition to those meetings to be able to add in some intricate points around their batters and bowlers,” he said.

Bradburn emphasised team unity as well by saying that it is now not about individuals; it’s now about the group. He highlighted the team’s efforts to achieve clarity on individual roles and responsibilities within the squad.

In their opening match against the Netherlands, the Babar Azam-led team overcame a couple of batting collapses to set a challenging target of 287 and secured an 81-run victory.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka entered the tournament after a demoralising loss in the Asia Cup finals against a formidable Indian side.

Similar to Pakistan, Sri Lanka also faced setbacks in their two warm-up matches against Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Sri Lankan team is missing key performers like Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga.

In their first game against South Africa in Delhi, their bowling struggled as the Proteas posted a record-breaking 428/5 in their 50 overs, ultimately dismissing Dasun Shanaka’s men for 326.

Pakistan aims to secure a win in this clash to gather momentum for their highly-anticipated showdown against India on Saturday, October 14.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka seeks to draw confidence from their recent last-ball victory against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and aims to get their campaign back on track.

Tentative playing XIs

Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf

Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka (c), Dunith Wellalage, Matheesha Pathirana, Kasun Rajitha, Maheesh Theekshana

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