KARACHI    -   As if a 10-year long absence of One Day International cricket wasn’t long enough, heavy showers have forced the city of Karachi to wait another few days.

The first ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was washed out on Friday at the National Stadium. And while the second ODI at the same venue had to be postponed from Sunday to Monday, it is set to finally get underway. The forecasts for Monday look encouraging with no rain on the horizon and the attention can now turn to the action on the pitch.

With several senior members of the squad opting out of the tour due to security concerns, Sri Lanka arrived in Karachi with a host of inexperienced players. The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne, Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews all decided against the tour, leaving The Lions considerably weakened.

Avishka Fernando and skipper Lahiru Thirimanne in particular will have to step up with the batting order looking especially weak. The fact that the visitors have lost each of the last six completed games against Pakistan makes the task at hand even more daunting.

However, the washout and subsequent postponement of the second ODI may have done the Sri Lankan camp some good. The youngsters have been afforded a little more time to find their bearings and get acquainted with the rest of the squad. It’s an opportunity for the likes of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Minod Bhanuka and Wanindu Hasaranga, among others, to establish themselves.

The anticipation around this fixture couldn’t be greater and Misbah-ul-Haq has done little to manage expectations. Nothing but victory will do for the new Pakistan head coach and chief selector – the first person to hold both roles.

Sri Lanka coach Rumesh Ratnayake said he hoped this series would encourage more Sri Lankan players to tour Pakistan.

“This will be a pre-cursor for that [Test] tour [in December],” Ratnayake said. “I’m sure this will certainly encourage the others to take decisions, but we can’t enforce it on them. They have taken a decision and we have to respect that, but certainly if things go well, this will be a huge thing for the future, not only for them but for all other countries to be here.”

The tour was affected by ten Sri Lankan players deciding against touring, resulting in Sri Lanka selecting a somewhat inexperienced team to tour Pakistan. Compounding their problems, head coach Ratnayake said the team’s “preparation hadn’t been that good”.

“Even before we came here, the preparations were hampered by rain. It seems as if it’s raining in the whole world. We had only had a day’s training outside, and today was the second day. So as you can imagine, the prep hasn’t been all that good, but that’s not going to be an excuse because they are all professional players. “The people who have taken their place are challenged to do well, it’s for their future also, so I hope there won’t be any rain.”

Pakistan’s young cricketer Shadab Khan said he has set his eyes on becoming a regular all-rounder in the national cricket team.

Shadab said he was working hard on his batting to be able to serve the team in all capacities. “I am looking forward to do that in next two matches here. I am ready to bat any position, at any number where my team wants me to bat in order.”

The cricketer acknowledged his inability to perform to his fans’ expectations recently in white-ball cricket but promised that he would do better in the series against Sri Lanka.

“I know that I haven’t done too good recently. But my role is an attacking spinner and cricket has changed recently, so I would be happy even if I go with figures of three for 50 in an ODI,” he said, highlighting that his economy rate in white-ball cricket was not that bad.

“I don’t know how the wicket would be but I hope it will have some support for spinners,” Shadab said, hoping for doing something good in front of home crowd.

He added that the young Sri Lankan team should not be underestimated. “They have something to prove and they’ll give their best. I know few of them from my U19 playing days and A team’s tour and I am aware of their strengths. It will be good series with them,” he emphasised.