Sri Lanka out to avoid Pakistan tour whitewash in two-match T20 series

Sri Lanka will look to prevent a clean sweep by Pakistan on their tour when they clash in two Twenty20 internationals in Colombo today and Saturday.

Lasith Malinga will lead the Sri Lanka T20 side in their two-match series against Pakistan. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
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COLOMBO // Sri Lanka will look to prevent a clean sweep by Pakistan on their tour when they clash in two Twenty20 internationals in Colombo Thursday and Saturday.

Pakistan won the preceding Test series 2-1 and also clinched the one-day series 3-2 to earn a double triumph in the island nation for the first time since 2006.

But Sri Lanka, the reigning World Twenty20 champions and the top-ranked side in the shortest format, have a chance to salvage pride in the two end-of-tour games at the Premadasa stadium.

Both sides have a fresh look under new captains, with sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga leading Sri Lanka and veteran Shahid Afridi taking the helm for fifth-ranked Pakistan.

While Malinga has retired from Test cricket and played in four of the five one-dayers, Afridi has quit the other two formats and will make his first appearance on the tour.

With the next World Twenty20 in India just eight months away, both sides have blooded new players to give them experience in the nuances of T20 cricket.

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 leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay.

Test and one-day regulars Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne have been omitted, but seasoned seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has been recalled after being left out of the one-day series.

“We need to get the younger brigade in the stream so that we have a gradual transition leading up to the next World T20 and the 50-over World Cup beyond that,” Sri Lanka chief selector Kapila Wijegunawardene was quoted as saying in local media. “We need to put them on the ground and see how they perform.”

Afridi and leg-spinner Yasir Shah are two among five players set to contest the T20 series who did not feature for Pakistan in either the Test or one-day matches.

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