Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Preview: Struggling sides in quest for new combinations

Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Preview: Struggling sides in quest for new combinations

The match will be played at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Pakistan and Sri Lanka captains during the trophy unveiling ceremony. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The stage is set for the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the dusty heat of the gulf yet again. When the two sides lock horns in the first Test, they will clash as a battle of equals. The call might sound a little harsh on the ‘hosts’ considering the fact that the opposition team – Sri Lanka – have had a horrid run in the past.

Sri Lanka were tour-washed by team India in their most recent international fixture. Also, they were badly beaten by South Africa earlier this year. Not to mention, they had to settle for a drawn series against Bangladesh at home and had a narrow escape in the one off Test against Zimbabwe this year. Things have surely been tough for them in their ‘transition period’, as they have kept saying.

On the other hand, this will be Pakistan’s first Test since May this year. Also, it will be their first Test after the stalwarts of the side – Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan – called it quits in international cricket. Their most recent Test assignment was a victorious one in the Caribbean. They will be under the captaincy of Sarfraz Ahmed, who will be captaining the side as full time captain for the first time.

The last time these two sides met in an international match was in the ICC Champions Trophy this year. The men in green, the eventual champions of the tournament, had toppled the Islanders in that fixture. This Test, however, will be a different ball game altogether.

Toss: Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat

Playing XI:

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella(w), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep

Focus will be on

Azhar Ali

The two big names from the Pakistani lineup will not be a part of the team and hence the onus now shifts on the senior members of the side. Azhar Ali, who has a Test triple ton to his name, will have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility in the match. Ali has been a consistent run-getter for the team and would want to replicate his past successes in this series as well.

Rangana Herath

All hopes of Sri Lanka’s bowling will be on Rangana Herath. He is their seniormost member in the side and will be carrying the responsibility of the bowling attack. In their recent series against India, the bowlers had performed poorly which reflected in the 600 plus scores amassed by the Indians. Expect Herath to bowl long spells in the series.

Team Combinations


Pakistan have named a new look side for the series. This will make the selection process get a little hectic for them. With Sami Aslam and Shan Masood in the squad, it is very much likely that Azhar Ali will assume the duties in the middle-order. Haris Sohail can make his Test debut. With the batting being a major concern for the hosts, the team might go ahead will an extra batsman in the side.

In the bowling department, young Mir Hamza will have to wait for his turn to make his Test debut. Yasir Shah will lead the spin bowling department, while Mohammad Amir looks set as the bowling spearhead with the new ball.

Sri Lanka

Pretty much like Pakistan, Sri Lanka also have an inexperienced squad to negotiate with. Young batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama is likely to make his Test debut. Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas had heaped praise on him in the pre-match press conference. Also, Pothas had a special mention for domestic veteran Roshen Silva, who is also likely to make his Test debut.

Meanwhile, Kaushal Silva, who has made a comeback to the squad, might have to wait for his turn in the series. Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, and Dinesh Chandimal form the core of the middle order. In the bowling department, Rangana Herath takes the lead role with pacers bowling around him.


Stat Attack

7 – The last time Pakistani team played without the services of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq was 7 years ago in England during their 2010 tour.

11 – Number of wickets needed by Rangana Herath to complete 400 Test wickets.

32 – Number of runs needed by Azhar Ali to complete 5000 Test runs. He will be the 8th Pakistani player to do so.