New captain, new kit and new T20 venue … Pakistan cricket team will take the field against Sri Lanka tonight with everything new. But does that mean that Sri Lanka will have the upper hand since it is their battlefield, and they have soldiers who have done it all? That’s a million dollar question because tried and tested usually don’t do well against the unexpected, and with Pakistan, anything’s possible.
Pakistan cricket team may not have the services of Test and ODI captain Misbah ul Haq who has been an integral part in T20 matches for the last 5 years, but there are some exciting cricketers who on their day can dominate the opposition as well as destroy their confidence. They have the edge over the hosts because the players have had ample rest since winning the Asia Cup earlier this year, and have trained and practiced well under coach Dav Whatmore, who knows Sri Lanka like the back of his hand. Whatmore was the coach of the Sri Lankan side who managed to win the World Cup in 1996, and he will use his experience to plan out a well-thought strategy for the greenshirts. Or is it the greyshirts? Pakistan cricket team will don a new kit which will have more grey and less green in it. One hopes that the players who don it come out victorious, just like they did when they unveiled their last kit during the World Cup in 2011, at this very same Hambantota.
As for the Sri Lankans, some of the players including skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga may have the advantage of playing in the recently concluded Indian Premier League but most of the players haven’t had much to do recently. The players will have to be at their best because the weather in Sri Lanka during June and July is punishing at the most for cricket. Add the lack of match practice and you get 11 players playing as a team rather than a team playing as a unit!
The spinners will undoubtedly hold the key in Sri Lankan conditions, and Pakistan has the bowlers to do it. Be it Mohammad Hafeez off-spin, Saeed Ajmal’s doosra, Abdur Rehman’s left-arm spin or Shahid Afridi’s variation, team Pakistan has the advantage ahead of the first encounter. Lets hope the new man behind the wickets Shakeel Ansar as well as the youngsters in the side manage to justify their place in the side by going one-up in unfamiliar territories.