Sri Lanka decides to bat first against Pakistan in final ODI


SHARJAH: Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat against Pakistan in the fifth and final ODI at Sharjah today.
Pakistan are already 4-0 up in the series.
Coach Mickey Arthur made no secret of his intention of inflicting a clean sweep on Sri Lanka when the teams meet today. Since their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 triumph in June, Pakistan have won eight straight games and have been unstoppable in limited overs, having overcome the disappointment of losing the preceding Test series to Sri Lanka 2-0 to open up a 4-0 lead in this series.
Arthur believes his team has shown the hunger to keep winning. “I will be disappointed if we didn’t make it 5-0,” he said ahead of the match. “The guys are hungry and they definitely want to do that. The key for us is to maintain our hunger and ruthlessness so we need to keep that momentum and put this series to bed.”
Pakistan have previously achieved five clean sweeps, all in series involving five games. They blanked Zimbabwe in 2002-03, Bangladesh in 2003, New Zealand in 2003-04 and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the 2008 season.
Sarfraz XI will look to try out more players with Haris Sohail the only one from the squad who has not featured in this series. But Arthur revealed that a spate of injuries was currently haunting the team.
“It’s a pity that we have picked up a couple of injuries,” he remarked. “I thought Fahim Ashraf bowled great lengths. I would have loved to see him play but he had a calf muscle [issue].”
Rumman Raees is out of the last match as well as the T20 series, Arthur said. The left-arm quick has injured his left elbow, Haris didn’t pass a fitness test in Abu Dhabi after he was pretty close to playing, Babar Azam has pulled a groin, the coach added.
He expressed hoped Fakhar Zaman would learn from his failures. “I would be lying if I say it is not a little worrying,” conceded the coach. “Fakhar is a really good player. What we need is to learn and we continue talking to him. He played in England during the Champions Trophy on really good wickets. The other wickets have been a lot slower and haven’t allowed him to play strokes as much as he would like,” said Arthur of the left-handed batsman who has scores of 43, 11, 29 and 17.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will look to avoid 11th straight loss, three short of their worst ever run of 14 defeats in 1987. Nic Pothas, the Sri Lanka coach, urged the batsmen to start delivering. “It is pretty obvious. It is not rocket science,” he said, not for the first time during this series. “We just want the batters to be a little more positive about the way they go about things. We also understand we need to be in the right frame of mind to be there. So our job is to try and give the players the freedom to be able to play their way. It is going to be a very good wicket again and it is not the biggest boundary in the world.”
The ODIs will be followed by a three-match T20 series with the last of those games to be played in Lahore on October 29.


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