Sri Lanka have named a full-strength squad for the upcoming two-Test series against Pakistan, which will be the first Test series to be hosted in Pakistan in over a decade.
Dinesh Chandimal, who was part of the Sri Lanka squad during the Test series against New Zealand but did not get to play a game, has been retained for the Pakistan series. Kasun Rajitha is the only new inclusion in the squad which has no place for Akila Dananjaya who, in September, was suspended from bowling in international cricket for 12 months due to an illegal action.
The last time Pakistan played a Test at home was in March 2009 against Sri Lanka – the series that was marred by the terrorist attack on the visitors’ team bus. Since then, international cricket has been slowly returning to Pakistan, with Sri Lanka being among the teams who visited the country recently.
However, it was a second-string Sri Lanka team that toured Pakistan in September-October this year for the limited-overs series. As per the original schedule, Sri Lanka were to play the Test matches in October and then come back to Pakistan in December for the limited-overs games but a swap for done to provide the visitors an opportunity to assess the situation.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board had a meeting with the players before the ODI and T20I series in Pakistan, apprising them of the security situation in Pakistan. The players, were reportedly given a free hand in deciding whether they wanted to travel with the side or not, and several high-profile players – including Mathews, Chandimal, Karunaratne and Lakmal – backed out of the limited-overs assignment.
Sri Lanka Cricket, earlier this month, gave the green signal for the Test series in Pakistan, with SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva saying that the board was “comfortable and convinced conditions are suitable and conducive for Test cricket.” Zakir Khan, PCB Director – International Cricket, said high standards of security will be in place to ensure the smooth running of the series.
The Sri Lankan team will leave for Pakistan on December 8 ahead of the Test series, which will be part of the World Test Championship. The first game will be played from December 11-15 at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi while the National Stadium in Karachi will host the second Test from December 19-23.
Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan