Colombo weather: Rain likely to play spoilsport in Pak vs SL clash

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Groundmen prepare covers for the pitch after heavy overnight rains ahead of the third day play of the Asia Cup 2023 super four one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on September 11, 2023. — AFP
Groundmen prepare covers for the pitch after heavy overnight rains ahead of the third day play of the Asia Cup 2023 super four one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on September 11, 2023. — AFP
  • Zaman Khan makes ODI debut today.
  • Pakistan make five changes in playing XI.
  • Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah out of Asia Cup.

COLOMBO: Rain is expected to interrupt the must-win Pakistan-Sri Lanka match in Colombo today as the weather continues to be a headache for the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

The side that emerges victorious today will qualify for the Asia Cup 2023 final against India scheduled for Sunday at the same venue.

While it has stopped raining in Colombo at the moment, strong winds continue to blow in the city. Moreover, intermittent rain is forecast throughout the day.

If the match today is washed out, Sri Lanka will fix its place in the final since they have a higher run rate than the Green Shirts. 

This is not the first game in the tournament to be affected by rain. Previously, all games Pakistan has played in the Island nation were affected by heavy showers.

Moreover, the Green Shirts have made wholesale changes in the team including several new players after Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Salman Ali Agha suffered injuries during the ongoing tournament.

However, Pakistan bowling coach Morne Morkel said injuries to their premier quicks is a big blow ahead of the match but a “fantastic opportunity” for up-and-coming talent.

“A big blow, picking up those little niggles, but in this same sort of thing what a fantastic opportunity for the guys coming in,” Morkel, a former South Africa fast bowler, told reporters.

“After going down against India, it’s a must-win game for us come tomorrow and I’m quite excited to see the new guys stepping in, to see their character, to see how they respond.”

Zaman Khan, 22, flew in from Pakistan and is already a popular name in national cricket after his heroics in this year’s PSL for champions Lahore Qalandars.

“I’m excited just to work with him, connectHari with them and build that relationship and help him develop, because he’s a match winner,” Morkel said of the quick who defended 13 runs of his last over to star in Lahore’s title defence this season.

Shaheen Shah Afridi leads the Pakistan pace attack that rattled India in the Asia Cup group match, which was washed out after just one innings.

But Shaheen and company took a hammering in their last meeting with India, who posted 356-2 in a match played across two days due to rain.

Morkel said the 228-run loss to India has been a good learning experience ahead of the 50-over showpiece event where they will meet their arch-rivals on October 14.

“Those are fantastic learnings for us,” said Morkel, who rated Shaheen as “world-class”.

“The more tough situations we can face leading into the World Cup, that’s brilliant. You know, we’re gonna grow from this and then come back stronger.”

Critics have pointed at Pakistan’s lack of quality spinners, a major drawback on turning Sri Lankan wickets, but Morkel insists the slow bowlers remain ready to perform.

Pakistan made five changes to their team that lost to India with Mohammad Haris, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim and Zaman coming in.

Pakistan XI: Mohammad Haris, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan (vice-capt), Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim, Zaman Khan

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