Pakistan ready for Sri Lanka series, says Malik

January 17th, 2009 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Jan 17 (IANS) Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik declared Saturday that his boys are fully ready for next week’s three-match one-day cricket series against Sri Lanka, saying that the team management has prepared a comprehensive strategy to combat the spin duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.Malik, who was retained as Pakistan captain earlier this month after leading his team to a 3-0 clean sweep in an ODI series against the West Indies last November, told reporters here at the National Stadium that the hosts will go all out to win the series opener in Karachi Tuesday.

“It’s a short series and winning the first match is going to be crucial in it,” said the 26-year-old all-rounder.

Pakistan lined up the series against Sri Lanka last month after India cancelled its tour of the country because of strained relations between the two neighbours over November’s terror attacks in Mumbai.

Sri Lanka will tour Pakistan twice this season to play three ODIs and two Tests. It will land in Karachi on Jan 18 (Sunday) and play back-to-back one-dayers here on Jan 20 and 21. It will play the last game of the series in Lahore on Jan 24 before flying back home to play in an ODI series against India.

The Sri Lankans will return to Pakistan next month to play the two Tests. Malik paid glowing tributes to Sri Lanka for accepting Pakistan’s invitation to play the series.

“When all the teams refused to tour Pakistan over one reason or the other, Sri Lanka accepted our invitation to come here. I salute them for their support,” he said.

Malik said that he is expecting some exciting encounters in the series. “Sri Lanka is one of the best teams in the world and the series is definitely going to be an interesting one,” he said.

Malik said that his comeback pacer Shoaib Akhtar is fully fit and is itching to take the field against Sri Lanka. Shoaib made his comeback in Pakistan’s ODI team last November for the series against the West Indies but had to miss all three games because of fitness problems.

Malik said that his team will tackle the threat likely to be posed by Murali and Mendis, widely regarded as the most potent spin combination in world cricket.

“We have faced Murali on several occasions in the past and most of our batsmen have done well against him,” he said. “Mendis is a relatively new bowler and we have prepared a strategy to tackle him,” he said.

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