Karachi set for historic ODI return

Sarfaraz-led Pakistan are hoping to put up a good show in front of their home crowd

Karachi set for historic ODI return PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

The second One-day International (ODI) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be played at the National Stadium in Karachi, on Monday, after heavy rain had washed out the opening match, much to the disappointment of the cricket fans who had flocked to the stadium for what was to be the first ODI played on a Karachi pitch in a decade.

Teams have been reluctant to visit the cricket-mad country since a deadly militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009, and Karachi has not hosted a one-day international since then. Pakistan have been forced to play nearly all of their "home" matches in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns.

Sarfaraz Ahmed-led Pakistan are hoping to put up a good show infront of their home crowd.

“Every player is eager to perform in front of the home crowd. No team is a weak opposition in international cricket. We are taking this series very seriously and look forward to give our best against Sri Lanka,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

According to the old schedule, the second ODI was bound to be played on September 29 but Sunday's match was rescheduled to Monday to avoid possible rain. It must be noted that there is very little chance of rain on September 30, according to the weather forecast, so fans are likely to witness a full match.

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The two teams will also play three Twenty20 internationals in Lahore next month.

The latest series is an attempt by Pakistan Cricket Board to bring international cricket back into the country following the 2009 attacks.

Zimbabwe were the first team to tour in Pakistan for six years when they played two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals in Lahore in 2015.

That was followed by a World XI tour and home T20 matches against Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

For the current tour, Pakistan have put in place stringent security measures normally reserved for heads of state.

All the arrangements are being led by the country's military, with around 2,000 security personnel on alert at the team's hotel and at the ground.

Sri Lanka ODI captain Lahiru Thirmanne was also satisfied with the security arrangements in the country.

“I had no qualms about touring Pakistan since Sri Lanka Cricket’s security team was satisfied with the safety plans put in place. I also consulted the Sri Lankan players who had toured Pakistan in 2017 and then I spoke to my family,” said the 30-year-old top-order batsman.

But the security guarantee did not stop the withdrawal of several key Sri Lankan players, including regular ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne as well as former captains Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal.

Expected lineups

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Avishka Fernando, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Oshada Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Angelo Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana and Kasun Rajitha

Pakistan: Imamul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c/wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, and Usman Shinwari.