Sarfraz, Chandimal look for new beginning

Pakistan wants to turn the page after the retirement of their two greats Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq while Sri Lanka will look to lift its recent poor showing in the longer format.

Chandimal believes Sri Lanka has the talent to improve after being thrashed 3-0 at home by India last month.   -  AFP

Rival captains Sarfraz Ahmed and Dinesh Chandimal hope the recent two-match Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will give them a new beginning.

Pakistan wants to turn the page after the retirement of their two greats Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq while Sri Lanka will look to lift its recent poor showing in the longer format.

Ahmed, who will lead Pakistan for the first time in Tests, is confident that his team will avail the first opportunity.

“Obviously, you have two great players who were playing consistently but you have to move on,” said Ahmed on Wednesday.

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“We have to remember the disciplines (of Younis and Misbah) and whatever they told us should be implemented on the field and start afresh,” said Ahmed, who has already led Pakistan in one-days and Twenty20 internationals.

“This is my first opportunity as captain in Tests, so I will be up for that challenge and my players are also up to that and are very excited at this prospect.”

Pakistan will use experienced batsman Azhar Ali on number three after he opened the innings in the last 12 months and will promote Asad Shafiq from six to four.

“We have strengthened our middle order and I am confident that Ali, Shafiq and Babar Azam will be up to the task to complement the batting,” said Ahmed, who also has three Test hundreds.

Ahmed said his team will not underestimate the Lankans.

Their team looks good,” said Ahmed of Sri Lanka. “They have (Lahiru) Thirimanne and Kushal Silva back so both the teams are young and I think it will be a good series.”

Chandimal believes Sri Lanka has the talent to improve after being thrashed 3-0 at home by India last month.

“From that last series we learnt a lot, especially we have done more work on our fitness and fielding. All we need to win is one game and everything will fall into place,” said Chandimal, whose team has lost seven of its last nine Tests, including one against Bangladesh.

It also came close to losing to minnows Zimbabwe in July before pulling off a close win.

Chandimal said his side can benefit from the retirement of Younis and Misbah.

“Actually we can have a very good advantage because the main two batsmen are not there in their batting unit but we will have to step up in our performance as a unit and we have something in our powers to do that.”

If Sri Lanka wins the series it will rise one place to sixth in Test rankings while Pakistan will go down one place to seventh.

Pakistan’s series win will keep it on its current spot of sixth.

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