Afridi back in business as Pakistan eyes rare sweep across formats following Test and ODI triumphs
Sri Lanka will have to raise its game by a few notches as it tries to prevent a clean sweep across formats by Pakistan on the current tour when the two teams clash in two Twenty20 Internationals in Colombo, the first of which will be played in Colomboon Thursday (July 30).
Pakistan won the Test series 2-1 and the One-Day International series 3-2 to earn a double triumph in the island nation for the first time since 2006.
But Sri Lanka, the reigning ICC World T20 champions and the No. 1 side in the shortest format, now has a chance to salvage pride in the two end-of-tour games at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Both sides wear a fresh look under new captains, with Lasith Malinga leading Sri Lanka and Shahid Afridi taking over for Pakistan, which is ranked fifth, when the two sides meet.
While Malinga has retired from Test cricket and played in four of the five ODIs, Afridi has quit the other two formats and will make his first appearance on the tour in the only format he is still active in.
With the next World T20 in India just eight months away, both sides have blooded new players to give them experience in the nuances of the format. Sri Lanka's 15-man squad includes five uncapped players in batsmen Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva, fast bowler Binura Fernando, and Jeffrey Vandersay, the legspinner.
Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, the Test and ODI regulars, have been omitted, but Nuwan Kulasekara has been recalled after being ignored for the ODI series.
Afridi is one of five players who did not feature for Pakistan in either the Test or one-day matches.
Wahab Riaz, sidelined with a fractured hand since the second Test, will be replaced by Zia-ul-Haq, another left-arm quick. Yasir Shah, who picked up 24 wickets in the three Tests, returns to the T20 fold after four years, while Mohammad Irfan has also been picked.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera (wk), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedara, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Kulasekara, Binura Fernando, Chathuranga de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Nauman Anwar, Mohammad Hafeez, Mukhtar Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Zia-ul-Haq.