Pakistan vs Sri Lanks (Pak vs SL) – First Test Preview

Thursday is working day in Abu Dhabi, so it will be hard to find a lot of spectator in Cricket stadium especially for day Test match, and when it involves one of the teams which is struggling in international cricket, the attendance is bound to be low. Despite the little hype surrounded on the test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the contest between two Asian giants will be very crucial for both the sides when they take on each other in the first test at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium this Thursday.

Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be entering a new phase and probably the most crucial stage of their cricket history. Pakistan will try to fill the huge vacuum created by the departure of Misbah and Younis, a total of 193 test matches but importantly they will miss their calm and relaxed demeanour which have lifted Pakistan from the nadir of spot-fixing of 2010 and took their Cricket to new glorious heights in these 7 years.

Their ability to maintain the standards of Pakistan Cricket and above all to inject a sense of discipline in the team and establishing a clean image of Pakistan Cricket rising above all controversies will be the one which will be sorely missed. Adding to it almost end of test careers of players like Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Umar Akmal means that Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq will have to play mentor roles being the most experienced players.

Coincidentally they’ve started their careers in 2010 at the same time when Misbah took the reign as captain. It will also be a challenge for Haris Sohail and Usman Salahuddin who will have enormous responsibilities to fill big shoes of Mishab and Younis.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be facing a different conundrum, they have seen some of the big names say goodbye to international cricket in recent years and witnessed a prolonged reformation of a side. A major reason has been the inability of the youngsters to fill the vacuum left by the retirements of likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan.

The regeneration of the side which started at the end of World Cup 2015 have stretched for almost 2 and half years, and while in recent times the other lower ranked teams like Zimbabwe and West Indies have performed amicably, Sri Lanka have slipped drastically. Their 0-9 loss in all three formats on their home soil against India was the biggest and most humiliating loss that a home team have ever suffered in all three formats.

More importantly, the youngsters failed to even compete in their own circumstances. Coach Nick Pothas might have tried to boost his players by saying that the loss against India has brought the players closer, but it will take some effort from Sri Lanka to compete in the series leave aside thinking of winning even against a team who themselves will try to rediscover some new talents.

Team News:

Pakistan have picked allrounder Mir Hamza, Harris Sohail and Usman Salahuddin as new entrants but the big surprise have been Bilal Asif. The 32 years old spinner does not have a great record with the bowling average of 38 and batting average of 19.52.

Azhar Ali is likely to open with Shan Masood while Babar Azam, Harris Sohail, Asad Shafiq and Usman Salahuddin will make up rest of the order.

Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas will open the bowling while Hasan Ali, whose stocks have increased after an impressive Champions Trophy is likely to compete with Mohammad Asghar for the fourth bowler if Pakistan decides to play with two spinners as Yashir Shah remains Pakistan’s premier bowler after doubts concerning his fitness cleared.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, seem to be running out of options, they have again called up opener Kaushal Silva who was dropped a few months back after a dismal performance in South Africa. Not only this, but Lahiru Thirimanne has also made a comeback after a decent one-day series against India.

Two Youngsters Roshen Silva and Sadeera Samarwickrama have been included in the team, and amid the enigma of the Sri Lankan batting, it wouldn’t be a surprise that both of them get a test cap in the first test or during the series. Sri Lanka will be facing another dilemma to give with three spinners or two pacers and two spinners. As has been their strategy they might go with a combination of two pacers and two spinners. While Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep will be opening the bowling, Rangana Herath will be leading the spin attack, and it is more likely that Sri Lanka will go with the experience of Dilruwan Perera over Sandakan’s leg spin.

It will be interesting to see which team prevails in the battle of young generations who are desperate to leave their mark on international Cricket

Teams Pakistan (probable) Azhar Ali – Shan Masood – Babar Azam – Asad Shafiq – Harris Sohail – Usman Salahuddin – Sarafraz Ahmeb (C and Wk) – Mohammad Amir – Yasir Shah – Mohammad Abbas – Mohammad Ashgar/Hasan Ali

Sri Lanka (probable) Dimuth Karunaratne – Kaushal Silva – Kusal Mendis – Dinesh Chandimal© – Lahiru Thrimanne – S.Samarwickrama/Roshen Silva – Niroshan Dickwella (wk) – Rangana Herath 9. Dilruwan Perera – Suranga Lakmal – Nuwan Pradeep

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