DAMBULLA: Pakistan captain Azhar Ali won the toss and sent Sri Lanka in to bat in the first one-day international in Dambulla on Saturday.
Ninth-ranked Pakistan need to win the five-match series to stay in contention for a place in the eight-nation Champions Trophy in England in 2017.
Sri Lanka, currently ranked fifth, are assured of taking part in the tournament.
Pakistan won the preceding Test series 2-1.
Pakistan will now focus on the one-dayers against Sri Lanka from Saturday that could determine their qualification for the Champions Trophy in 2017. Azhar Ali will lead the ninth-ranked tourists who need a series win to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the eight-nation Champions Trophy in England.
Sri Lanka, playing their first one-day series since the retirement of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara from the shorter format after the World Cup, are also rebuilding for the future. The hosts, who were also World Cup quarter-finalists, have included two new allrounders, Milinda Siriwardana and Sachith Pathirana, both of whom bowl left-arm spin.
Sri Lanka’s 15-man squad, led by Test captain Angelo Mathews, includes just six players who took part in the preceding Test series.
The rivals will get their first taste of the new one-day regulations which have no batting powerplay, no compulsory close-in catchers in the opening 10 overs, and allow five fielders outside the circle — instead of four — in the final 10 overs.