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Pakistan highly motivated to do well in the five-match ODI series

Khaleej Times 2017-10-12 19:55:26

If you are itching to see the highly-rated Imam-ul Haq bat for the first time in international cricket, you are going to be very disappointed on Friday.

The 21-year-old left-handed batsman who has scored tons of runs in Pakistan domestic cricket will not make his debut at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday when Pakistan begin their one-day series against Sri Lanka.

Imam, the nephew of iconic Pakistan batsman and current chief selector Inzamam-ul Haq, will have to wait to wear his first cap as captain Sarfraz Ahmed made it clear that Ahmed Shezad would open the innings with Fakhar Zaman, one of their biggest heroes of that Champions Trophy triumph in June .

"Well, you guys know the fifteen players that we have on our squad. So I can tell you now that Faheem Ashraf, Usman Shinwari, Haris Sohail and Imam-ul Haq are not playing tomorrow," the wicketkeeper-batsman told reporters at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

Despite suffering their first Test series defeat in seven years in the UAE, Sarfraz said his team were highly motivated to do well in the five-match one-day series in the UAE.

"We hope so, we have moved forward after what happened in Tests. All the players in the team are very motivated to do well. We have some new players in the squad and hopefully they will give good performances," he said.

"Of course, our approach will change now since it's the shorter form of the game. Sri Lanka are a good team on paper so it will be a good series. But we are confident that we can do better than what we did in the two Test matches. 

"Also this is our first one-day match after the Champions Trophy victory. Hopefully we will keep the same momentum and play like that."

Several critics in Pakistan have been quick to point out Sarfraz's reluctance to promote himself in the batting order. 

They believe the gifted stroke-maker could contribute more if he bats in the top four. 

But Sarfraz on Thursday made it clear that he was against the idea of tinkering with a set batting line-up. 

"We have Babar (Azam) at number three and (Mohammed) Hafeez bhai at four. And they have been doing very well. So, you know, we have a set batting order and the combination suits us. When I became captain in the West Indies, this was our combination. We will not change it unless there is a need to change," he said. 

The Pakistan captain was confident that the team had the firepower to cope with Mohammed Amir's absence.

"Unfortunately we don't have Amir but we have good bowling attack with Usman and Rumman Raees along with Junaid Khan. So, it's a good attack."

rituraj@khalejtimes.com