The year 2019 has been quite a disappointing one for Pakistan in international cricket. They have failed to win a single bilateral series so far in any form and also produced a dismal performance in the ICC World Cup in England. The country’s cricket authorities overhauled the coaching staff and former captain Misbah-ul-Haq has been made the new coach-cum-chief selector replacing Mickey Arthur.
However, if a report of Daily Jang is to be believed, Pakistan are unlikely to see much of a change in their playing XI in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka starting on Friday, compared to the sides they had fielded in the World Cup. The Urdu daily even cited sources to say that there will be a couple of changes to the playing XI that takes the field against the Lankans in the first ODI at the National Stadium in Karachi.
The hosts will continue with their set opening duo of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, both of whom had an ordinary World Cup, and came under criticism for failing to rise in crunch situations.
Sarfaraz Ahmed looks a fixed No.5 in Misbah era
Babar Azam, arguably Pakistan’s best batsman at the moment and also picked as the vice-captain in the twin series against the Lankans, will come at No.3 while Haris Sohail will bat at No.4. However, the biggest surprise was assigning skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to the No.5 position, a position in which he has batted on and off in the past. The wicket-keeper-batsman has been accused earlier of not leading from the front in difficult situations but under the new coach, his batting position looks fixed.
The skipper had at times been accused of hiding behind his teammates when the going gets tough, but the new head coach seems adamant on addressing that by promoting Sarfaraz up the order. Next in will be Iftikhar Ahmed, another change from previous set-ups. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan will be the spin-bowling all-rounders while Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Usman Shinwari be the pacers.
Shinwari will replace Shaheen Shah Afridi, the left-arm seamer who had signed off the World Cup with a six-wicket burst against Bangladesh.
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