Malinga, Fernando expected to tip scale in ODIs

Dubai: Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan says savvy fast bowlers Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando could give his side the edge against Pakistan in the one-day cricket series beginning on Friday.

Sri Lanka fielded an inexperienced pace attack during the three-test series that ended yesterday with Pakistan 1-0 victors.

"It`s a different team especially in the bowling. This (one-day) unit is really experienced," Dilshan said. "I have Lasith, Dilhara, these two guys are really experienced and have played the last 10 years for Sri Lanka in one-day cricket."

The 32-year-old Fernando is the fourth most prolific wicket-taker for Sri Lanka with 176 in 140 one-day matches but has been out of favor in the five-day game.

Malinga, just 28, retired from test cricket this year, saying a chronic knee problem couldn`t take the strains of the longer version of the game. His scorching Yorkers and well-disguised slower ball has helped him collect 149 wickets in 94 one-dayers.

Dilshan also said his side, runner-up in the World Cup in April, would carry good momentum following the spirited display in the final test at Sharjah, where they controlled the match but fell short of a series-leveling victory.

"We can carry positive things from this test match for the one-day series," Dilshan said.

He was also banking on left-hander Kumar Sangakkara to maintain the hot streak that earned him 516 runs in the three Tests.

"The way Sanga is in form, if he carries that into the one-day series we have a better chance to win," he said.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq acknowledged it would be a close battle for honors.

"I think it`s a 50-50 game. They are a good side," Misbah said. "They are a tough side, especially in these types of conditions. We know we will face some real good competition."

But Misbah said the test series win and good recent one-day form would give his team confidence.

Pakistan was a World Cup semifinalist in April and, since then, has reeled off series victories in West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe.

"We reached the semifinal, we really played very well in the World Cup," Misbah said. "We are playing good one-day cricket for the last six-seven months or a year."

Misbah also said the return of the hard-hitting legspinner Shahid Afridi would be a fillip for his team.

Afridi, who captained the side in the World Cup, retired during the summer after a breakdown in relations with coach Waqar Younis and Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt.

Younis and Butt have both recently vacated their positions and Afridi has made himself available again and been welcomed back.

"Of course, he`s a very good allrounder. He`s really a threat to the opposing teams especially in the conditions like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah," Misbah said. "As a senior player, as a performer, it`s a good boost for the team."

The first three matches are at Dubai International Stadium before the series shifts to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi for the final two contests. The teams finish off the tour with a one-off Twenty20, also at Abu Dhabi.


Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Younus Khan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Abdur Razzaq, Asad Shafiq.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (c), Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis, Kosala Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dilhara Fernando, Suraj Randiv.

Bureau Report

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