Pakistan are likely to make two changes in today?s final One-day International against Sri Lanka here at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Asad Shafiq and left arm fast bowler Junaid Khan will be included in the playing XI, an inside source confirmed on condition of anonymity.
On the other hand, team management and captain Misbahul Haq have denied any changes in the team from the side which played in the last match but these two players will make their way in the playing XI.
One more name of left arm spinner Abdul Rehman was also considered but due to the importance of the outcome of the match he is highly unlikely to get the nod. The main reason behind these two changes are, Imran Farhat has also failed to cement his place in the side despite getting numerous chances and Shoaib Malik also flopped in the fourth match.
Pakistan team can?t afford to take this match lightly although they have already won the series but they have to win this match to ensure their fifth position in the ICC ODI rankings currently being held by England. If Pakistan win the fifth and final ODI against Sri Lanka they are guaranteed the fifth position.
On a query, Misbah, said the current Pakistan team was more mature than the one which lost to India in the World Cup semi-final in March. "That World Cup team wasn't so different to this side, maybe one or two changes," he said. "That also had teamwork and commitment in it. But this team is now more mature than before. We've won a few series since then and the confidence grows more as you win. If these performances continue and these players stay together, then definitely we can get better. It looks more improved basically because it has more experience."
Misbah said his team would not ease off going into their final ODI against Sri Lanka. "We want to win every game we play. The series win had its own importance but in Wednesday's game we will play like a series decider, or the first match," said Misbah.
If Pakistan take the series 4-1, they will jump to fifth in ICC one-day rankings, relegating England to sixth and Misbah said that was one of the goals. "Of course to improve our rankings is a team goal. We have been playing for the last 18 months and through that we want to improve our ranking," said Misbah, whose team has won 22 of their last 33 one-day matches.
Misbah also hoped that there could soon be a resumption of Test matches between his country and India, stalled after the terrorists? attacks on Mumbai in 2008.
"Of course, we'd like to play against India," Misbah said. "It's a very important series for both players and fans. It's always good fun to play in these contests. The interest is high, I hope it happens because for all fans and players it is a good occasion."
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf is due to meet Narayan Srinivasan, his counterpart in India's Board of Control for Cricket in India, in Chennai early next month to discuss the possibility of a resumption of ties sooner than later. Both countries are slated to play in International Cricket Council (ICC) Future Tours Programme but are hard pressed to find a slot because of India's hectic schedule.
When this correspondent asked him whether he was feeling any pressure as three past captains, Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi, are playing under him, Misbah replied that there was no problem whatsoever in the team and all are playing as a one unit. ?As far as these past captains are concerned they are helping me and when we feel the situation is tight we make decision with each others consent and I am more than happy with all of them?, he added
Misbah was full of praise for Afridi and said: ?I have full confidence in his abilities as everyone knows he is a big match player and whenever team needs him he always delivers like he did in the fourth ODI.?
Misbah rubbishes the talk of rift among the team and said that he is satisfied with the behaviour of each player and everyone has performed in his capacity that is why after a long time Pakistan team has managed to win both ODI and Test series after a long time.
Sri Lanka will be without their ace batsman Mahela Jayawardene who returned home after aggravating a knee injury and is replaced by Chamara Silva. Mahela Jayawardene has been ruled out of Sri Lanka's last two matches against Pakistan and returned home, team manager Anura Tennekoon said on Tuesday.
Mahela played last match in some discomfort after injuring his knee. Tennekoon said.
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