Pakistan will play an ODI at home for the first time since 2015 while Sri Lanka will visit there for the first time since 2017. (Image credit: Twitter)
Misbah-ul-Haq has taken over the reigns of the Pakistan cricket team and he has already ushered in changes. The team will have a strict diet which will exclude biryani and sweets. Misbah, who played until the age of 43 and was supremely fit, has stressed on fitness as the ultimate criteria for selection in the team. The former Pakistan cricket team captain has said there will not be much experimentation and it will be a departure from the previous rotating door policy in Pakistan cricket that saw many players being chucked out after playing just one or two games.
"We will only pick those players who have the required fitness and who have performed enough to be given serious consideration. In the past, we have seen we picked players prematurely and after one or two matches they found it difficult to cope with the pressures of international cricket. These are the only 50-over matches we play this season and we want to make their optimum use. Over the course of my cricketing career, I have realized there are no easy games and there are no easy opponents," Misbah stated.
The three-match ODI series begins on September 27 and the squad sees no new players but it features the return of several players who were not picked for the World Cup. Abid Ali, Ifthikar Ahmed, Muhammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Muhammad Nawaz have all been included in the squad. All five players were overlooked by former chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and ex-head coach Mickey Arthur for the major event. But Misbah said they were straightforward selections for this series.
"Iftikhar Ahmed is a batsman who can also bowl off-spin and provides the captain with necessary bowling depth as Sri Lanka boasts a few left-handers in their ranks. Mohammad Nawaz has been performing well in domestic matches. Despite their strong performances, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Abid Ali were unlucky to miss out the World Cup squad," Misbah said.
The 43-year-old stressed that Sarfraz Ahmed, who has still hung on as the captain of the side, needs to do more with the bat. Misbah felt Sarfraz had undermined his batting in the last couple of days. ""I have spoken to him and I have told him he needs to be batting regularly because he is the sort of batsman who can quickly change the game," Misbah said.
Pakistan ODI squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz