Pakistan will lock horns with Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 (T20) game of the two-match series at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday.
Having won the ODI series against Sri Lanka recently, Pakistan will be high on confidence and would be looking forward to retain their winning streak.
With the ICC World T20 2016 in the horizon, Pakistan would not make any major changes to their squad and instead would want to solidify their strength, ahead of the T20 World Cup in India.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka have a lot to worrry about, as their side is going through a transition. Their big guns such as Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have already quit this format of the game.
The Sri Lankans have roped in five uncapped players in the T20 squad for this two-match series.
Lasith Malinga, who will be captaining the Sri Lankan side, himself need to rise to the ocassion and get back in the rhythm as soon as possible. Malinga's fitness has been under the radar of Sri Lankan Cricket. He was one of the most expensive bowlers during the recently concluded ODI series against Pakistan at home, which the Lankans lost 2-3. When Malinga is on a song, he can rattle any batting line-up in the world.
"My injury isn't 100 percent healed. After my surgery I played the World Cup almost immediately. After having not bowled for a month and a half, I came into the team and got the most wickets for Sri Lanka. I'm happy about that. But I still wasn't able to give 100 per cent. There may be better players than me in Sri Lanka, and I'd like to give them a fight. That's how you get better.
"In this T20 series, there is a limit of four overs, so I think I'll be able to bowl well. Hopefully in the future I can rejoin the one-day team after I work on my fitness. If the selectors and captain feel I'm good enough, I'll look forward to playing. I don't have huge expectations. I'll play the matches as I get them," Malinga told reporters ahead of the 1st T20 international against Pakistan on Wednesday.
Nuwan Kulasekara has also made his way back into the squad for the T20 series. His knack of picking up wickets at regular intervals makes him one of the best seamers of Sri Lanka. But he faced a form slump in the later half of 2014. As a result, he was dropped from the ODI and Test squads and now he will be desperate to prove his worth and get back to rhythm as early as possible.
Meanwhile, Pakistan are likely to retain its ODI team for the T20 series. They have just added two new names to their T20 squad, Zia-ul-Haq and Nauman Anwar.
Pakistan have managed to outclass Sri Lanka in both the Test and ODI series and now will be eyeing victory in the T20 series as well. Their top order has done the bulk of the scoring, giving the middle order batsmen to come out and play their natural game, which is going to be even more important in the shortest format of the game.
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedara, Angelo Mathews, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Milinda Siriwardene, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lasith Malinga (C), Binura Fernando.
Pakistan: Mukhtar Ahmed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed/ Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi (C), Mohammad Rizwan, Anwar Ali, Yasir Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan.
Where to Watch Live:
The 1st T20 international game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will start at 7:00pm local time (7:00pm IST, 2:30 BST, 1:30pm GMT, 6:30pm PST) with live coverage in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, on Ten Cricket and Ten HD. The live streaming option will be available on Tensports.com.
Cricket fans in Pakistan can stream the match live on GeoSuperTv.
Viewers in the US can watch the match live on Willow TV and stream the game on Willow TV Online.