Cricket - Pakistan thriving under pressure

Pakistan will be looking to build on their recent one-day international success against South Africa when they take on Sri Lanka in a five-match series, starting on Wednesday in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

Misbah-ul-Haq's team followed up a heavy 4-1 defeat against the Proteas in the UAE with a 2-1 success over the same opposition away from home, the first time they have beaten South Africa in an ODI series.

It is their recent record in the UAE that makes for grim reading, with their last success at their adopted home against a major cricket nation coming against Sri Lanka in November 2011.

Yet there is reason for optimism after their success against South Africa as several players showed flashes of their best form and captain Misbah is desperate to see it continue.

"It is the Pakistan team's quality that they produce better results when they are under pressure," Misbah told cricinfo.com.

"We were under pressure before the South Africa tour and when the confidence is better we play well."

The two sides split a two-match International Twenty20 series, with Pakistan edging to victory by three wickets in Dubai before Sri Lanka levelled matters at the same venue by 24 runs in a high-scoring contest.

Tall paceman Mohammad Irfan will not be available due to a hip injury, although spinner Saeed Ajmal has been in decent form recently, while Junaid Khan and Sohail Tanvir are likely to provide the seam bowling options.

Two of Sri Lanka's most experienced campaigners - Mahela Jayawardene and Rangana Herath - opted out of the series, which gives young batsman Kusal Perera and all-rounder Seekkuge Prasanna the chance to push their claims for a regular starting berth.

There will be familiar faces in Sri Lanka's line-up, with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara in the top three.

Captain Sangakkara believes he and Dilshan combine well.

"When Dilshan is at the other end, the bowlers are always under pressure, because they are trying to avoid areas where he scores," he told cricinfo.com.

"That sometimes makes them forget about me and they come a little easier at me, allowing me to score in my areas."