Pakistan will be hosting Test cricket for the first time in more than 10 years, that too with a full strength Sri Lanka squad, in December 2019. Dimuth Karunaratne will lead the Sri Lanka side, with experienced batsmen Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal also in the 16-member squad. The team leaves for Pakistan on December 8 to play two Test matches that will count towards the World Test Championship.
Less than three months ago, Sri Lanka had toured Pakistan for limited-overs matches but as many as 10 high-profile names had withdrawn then. The Test series was originally scheduled to be played in October at a neutral venue because of security issues. But PCB requested Sri Lanka to play the entire bilateral series in Pakistan, and the limited-overs series was played first as a test for security measures taken by the hosts. Following the success of the tour, a convinced Sri Lanka agreed to play in Pakistan again.
There was only one change to the Sri Lanka squad that played the second Test against New Zealand at home in August. Kasun Rajitha, the right-arm fast bowler, replaced legspinner Akila Dananjaya who is currently serving a one-year suspension over an illegal action.
The first Test will start on December 11 in Rawalpindi followed by the second in Karachi from December 19. The country has not hosted a Test match since the 2009 Lahore terror attack that left several Sri Lankan cricketers and support staff members injured. Fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was part of Sri Lanka’s squad back then as well.
That attack effectively ended international cricket in Pakistan for over five years, before Zimbabwe toured them in 2015. Sri Lanka and West Indies then played T20Is in Pakistan in 2017-18 before Sri Lanka’s recent tour in September. The PCB has also successfully hosted several PSL matches in Pakistan and is pushing for the entire season to be played in Pakistan this time.
Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan.
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