Lahore: Eight years after being targeted in a militant attack, Sri Lanka will become the first major team to return to Pakistan, giving the cricket-starved nation a huge fillip in its efforts to revive international cricket in the country.
Improved security through military operations in the country has helped Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) take gradual steps towards bringing international cricket back to the country, while the team has been forced to play home games on neutral venues of United Arab Emirates.
With improved security in recent years, PCB held a limited-over series with Zimbabwe in 2015, the final of Pakistan Super League, and a three-match series against a World XI side earlier this year – all in Lahore. That helped convince Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to send their team for the third and final Twenty20 International in Lahore on Sunday.
A new-look Sri Lanka lost the first two T20Is, handing Pakistan the T20I series to go with the ODI series which Sarfraz Ahmed’s side won 5-0.
Sri Lanka will fly to Lahore early on Sunday to play the last match later in the evening and will then dash off home the same night in a fly-in, fly-out arrangement.
From Pakistan’s point of view, Hasan Ali has been bowling like a dream, and the spin twins, Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim, have been excellent too. Usman Khan has been at the top of his game as well.
On Friday, Pakistan found its heroes in Faheem Ashraf and Shadab who took the side to a nervy two-wicket win. Driven by a hat-trick, Ashraf derailed the Sri Lankan innings with 3 for 16 in his three overs, thus becoming the first Pakistani to record a hat-trick in T20Is.
With 12 needed from the last six balls, Shadab, 18, hit the fourth ball of the last over for a six to seal the series 2-0.
Irrespective of the result, Pakistan’s hopes will be pinned on the successful conduct of this T20I – a precursor in bringing Windies for three T20Is next month.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt and wk), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari, Umar Amin.
Sri Lanka: Thisara Perera (capt), Dilshan Munaweera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Sachith Pathirana, Vikum Sanjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Chaturanga de Silva.
Sunday October 29, 2017
Start time 1930 local (1430 GMT)