The Sri Lankans have lost five of the last six one-day internationals against Pakistan, but head into this month’s fixtures knowing a whitewash would move them above England into fourth spot in the ICC ODI table - irrespective of how Alastair Cook’s side fare in their three-match series against West Indies.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is well aware of the task ahead of his side, though. He said: “Pakistan will be a challenge and what makes them competitive is the sort of bowling options available, apart from the specialists.”
Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami and Sohail Tanvir will lead Pakistan’s pace attack, with the spin trio of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez also providing options.
Afridi shone with bat and ball as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 23 runs in Hambantota on Sunday to tie the two-match Twenty20 series. Eight Pakistan players who took part in the T20 games will return home, with a number of familiar faces arriving for the ODIs - including captain Misbah-ul-Haq and batsman Younus Khan.
Tanvir has been retained for the ODIs after impressing in the T20s in Hambantota. He replaces Nasir Jamshed in the tourists’ squad, the opening batsman having been ruled out by a broken finger before the team departed for Sri Lanka.
Despite his side’s good recent one-day record - not only against Sri Lanka, but Pakistan have won 16 of the last 22 overall - skipper Misbah is wary of the hosts and has called on his whole squad to perform.