New era begins in Pakistan as ODI cricket returns to Karachi after 10 years

Sarfraz Ahmed leads hosts against depleted Sri Lankan side in three-match ODI series

Sri Lanka captain Lahiru Thirimanne, right, and his Pakistani rival Sarfaraz Ahmed stand with a trophy, in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Thirimanne wants the focus to move from security in Pakistan to the cricket itself when their three-match ODI series starts Friday. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Squads

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Babar Azam (vc), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Angelo Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara

Friday will be a momentous day in Pakistan cricket as Karachi gets set to host a one-day international for the first time in 10 years when the men in green take on a depleted Sri Lankan side in the first game of a three-match series.

The tour faced a few obstacles with 10 Sri Lankan players refusing to travel to Pakistan citing security concerns. That put the whole series in doubt but the Sri Lankans held up their end of the bargain, giving Pakistan another opportunity to join international cricket mainstream.

"History will be made on Friday when Karachi hosts the first ODI," Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was quoted as saying by AFP. "We must thank the Sri Lankan team for touring us."

Pakistan were forced to play a majority of their cricket in the UAE as teams refused to visit their nation following a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009.

However, in the last few years limited-overs series have been held in Pakistan including a T20 tour by a 'World XI' in 2017, a one-off T20 against Sri Lanka the same year, and a T20 series against the West Indies in Karachi last year.

Sri Lankan captain Lahiru Thirimanne – leading the side after Dimuth Karunaratne pulled out – wants the focus to go back on cricket.

Pakistan's head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq speaks to reporters in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. Misbah said Sri Lanka's top players should have come for the limited-overs series in Pakistan after being assured of head-of-state-like security by the government. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

"The security has been really first class," Thirimanne said. "We didn't have any problems. The facilities here are really good. It's a good challenge because 10 of our senior players are not here. Pakistan have named their best side so it's good opportunity for youngsters to showcase their talent."

What also makes the series significant is the fact that it marks the beginning of the Misbah-ul-Haq era with the former captain recently made the head coach and chief selector, giving him unprecedented power to shape the team.

The two teams also play three T20s on October 5, 7 and 9 – all in Lahore .

Squads

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Babar Azam (vc), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Angelo Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara

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