Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi December 30, 2013

Pakistan hold aces against under-prepared SL

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Match facts

December 31, 2013 - January 4, 2014
Start time 1000 local (0600 GMT)

Big Picture

Appetisers devoured, entrées done, the tour arrives at its main course with fans' appetites well whetted. Five of the seven limited-overs matches have been good contests, and the cricket has largely been absorbing. Sri Lanka have won fewer matches, but they are now boosted by the return of their primary Test match-winner in Rangana Herath, and their best batsman against spin in Mahela Jayawardene.

Still, in the UAE, Pakistan hold the pre-series aces. Sri Lanka have not only had no Tests since March, they have also foregone the practice matches that are so often the bedrock of successful foreign expeditions. Three clear days between the last ODI and the first day of the Test only exacerbate their challenge.

Pakistan are also at a clear advantage in another area - though they are missing Mohammad Irfan for this series, their pace attack is venomous where Sri Lanka's is only doughty. No bowler in Sri Lanka's 16-man squad is Junaid Khan's equal, and although Umar Gul has a mediocre record against Sri Lanka, the reverse-swing he gleans on dry pitches may prove potent against the visitors' inexperienced middle order. In comparison, Suranga Lakmal has never taken more than four wickets in a match and averages 65.75, while Shaminda Eranga has been far from his best in domestic cricket over the past two months.

Where Sri Lanka will hope to make the most ground on their opposition is in the top order. Kumar Sangakkara averages a staggering 89.23 in 31 innings against Pakistan, and if Saeed Ajmal has a kryptonite, Sangakkara is his glowing, green nightmare. In Sangakkara's last six innings in the UAE, he has hit a double-ton, a century and two fifties. When the teams last met for a three-Test series in Sri Lanka in June 2012, Sangakkara hit 490 runs at an average of 163.3. How Pakistan seek to nullify his threat may go some way in determining the outcome of the series. They will perhaps be heartened that Sangakkara has not been in ominous touch in the ODIs.

Jayawardene has had less success against Pakistan and is clearly short of match practice, as he arrives from an extended personal leave, but he is hungry to push his Test average beyond 50 once more and has the technique to prosper in the UAE. With a slew of inexperienced batsmen around them, Sri Lanka's juggernauts may have to be the engine room of the team's innings as the youngsters ease back into Test cricket.

Pakistan possess two wizened pillars of their own. Younis Khan struggled against South Africa's attack, but will likely find Sri Lanka's bowlers a friendlier challenge, while it is probably harder for Misbah-ul-Haq, on present form, not to cross fifty on a trip to the crease. Pakistan's young batsmen, like Sri Lanka's, have plenty to gain from the series, but some also have much to lose.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
Pakistan: LWLWL
Sri Lanka: WDLLL

In the spotlight

The Rangana Herath v Saeed Ajmal dynamic has already been played down by the teams, but, with two of the finest spinners in the world about to play on responsive surfaces, it is the most exciting head-to-head of the tour. The last time they played in the same series, they ended up as the top wicket-takers, with the same number of wickets. Herath had the better average and economy rate, but Ajmal struck in fewer deliveries. The Sri Lankan spinner weaves a web and waits for his prey to entangle themselves in it, while the Pakistan bowler steals close and pounces. It is a collision of slow-bowling philosophies, and it has the potential to be the defining factor in the series.

Opening batsmen have frustrated both sides over the past two years and, with Tillakaratne Dilshan's retirement, Sri Lanka are now forced to field two rookies at the top of the order. Kaushal Silva will return for his second stint in the national side, and Dimuth Karunaratne will continue his education in the role after another fine year in Sri Lanka's A team. Pakistan's combination is less sure. Mohammad Hafeez's Test average in the last year is 10.2, but given his incredible success in the ODI series, the team management will struggle to leave him out of the Tests. They may include him at the expense of opener Shan Masood, though they may also have Hafeez arriving at No.3 instead of Azhar Ali. Either way, each of the possible openers for both sides has an opportunity to embed themselves in Tests over the following weeks.

Team news

Apart from the Hafeez/Masood/Azhar tussle, Pakistan's XI may be fairly settled. If Hafeez does play, he may allow Pakistan to play either an extra batsman, or perhaps, a young fast bowler in place of the second frontline spinner.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Khurram Manzoor, 2 Shan Masood, 3 Mohammad Hafeez/Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman/ Rahat Ali/ Mohammad Talha, 9 Umar Gul, 10. Saeed Ajmal, 11. Junaid Khan

Sri Lanka's batting seems stable, but apart from Herath, the bowling is less settled. Dilruwan Perera may have a minute edge over fellow offspinner Sachithra Senanayake, but either way, one of them seems set to make their Test debut on Tuesday. Quick and aggressive Nuwan Pradeep would add edge to the attack, but Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal are the more reliable bowlers. Sri Lanka will likely choose two out of the three. There is also a chance Prasanna Jayawardene might push Lahiru Thirimanne out of the side, taking the gloves in the process. The ankle injury Thirimanne sustained during the ODI series may also play a part in keeping him out.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Kaushal Silva, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4. Mahela Jayawardene, 5. Lahiru Thirimanne/ Prasanna Jayawardene, 6. Angelo Mathews (capt), 7. Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 8. Sachithra Senanayake/Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Shaminda Eranga/Nuwan Pradeep

Pitch conditions

The Abu Dhabi pitch retained a green tinge on the eve of the match, suggesting seam bowlers may prosper on the first morning, but the captains held contradicting views on how the pitch would play. Misbah expected the pitch to be slow after the initial period, but Angelo Mathews felt there was a little pace in it.

Stats and trivia

  • Ajmal has dismissed Sangakkara only three times in nine matches, and the batsman averages 95.5 against attacks that feature the Pakistan offspinner.
  • Pakistan have won the two most recent matches in Abu Dhabi and drawn the other two games.
  • Rangana Herath's 51 wickets against Pakistan is the most he has taken against any opposition, but his average of 35.60 in the UAE is significantly worse than his career average of 29.52.
  • Pakistan's only draws after January 2011 have been against Sri Lanka. The two teams have played each other six times and won one game each in that period.

Quotes

"I am not concerned about Ajmal. I am concerned about my team and how I am going to perform."
Rangana Herath is among the few who are not buying into the Ajmal v Herath hype.

"Sri Lanka is a top side and a competitive one to play with so you need to be at your best to do well." Misbah-ul-Haq

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY bouncer709 on | December 31, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    Good to see Ahmed Shehzad making his debut in Test, Bilawal Bhatti is also on Debut, but his inclusion is questionable, lets see what he can do, Abdur Rehman should have been given chance in his place. However, if not playing Abdul Rehman, then it is good idea to include Hafeez in place of Azhar Ali, specially seeing the form and runs scored by Hafeez Srilanka and he can do some bowling.

  • POSTED BY greenluv on | December 31, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    why younis again why could not they just keep young guy in the team now.... Younis is good but i guess now its time for him to stay home and help in domestic cricket if they really want to help Pakistan cricket in and by any means.... same goes to Hafeez.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | December 31, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Pal should not be complacent with their ODI RUN. Test croc is altogether a different ball game.

  • POSTED BY MurtaMac on | December 31, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    If Hafeez plays ahead of Azhar Ali (which I think might happen) that would be so unfair on a Test specialist like Azhar. I know he has been struggling of late but he is a talented player and going back to Hafeez, even though he is in sublime form sends a very wrong message to youngsters like him. Hope we get the bowler's selection right and don't go in with half fit players like Gul. Good luck Pakistan!

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Best of luck Team Pakistan...

  • POSTED BY TZ9383 on | December 31, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Today's My SL team 1 Kusal(he is in better form than Dimuth), 2 Kaushal, 3 Sanga, 4 Mahela, 5 Chandi, 6 Mathews, 7 Presanna, 8 Sachithra, 9 Herath, 10 Eranga 11 Vishva Fernado (because Pakistan always struggle against left arm fast bowlers) all the best Sri Lanka

  • POSTED BY Rocketman1 on | December 31, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    This Pakistan team is looking very well balanced with their fast bowling, spin bowling, and batting combinations if the ODI's are anything to go by. SL side seems a bit bare after Sanga and Mahela and the only bowling threat being Herath. This will be a good opportunity for the young guys to see where they sit against a good attack. SL really need to some answers to the poor excuses they have for fast bowlers. Eranga has the goods, but every team needs at least two!

  • POSTED BY shahnbej on | December 31, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    I don't think Misbah will give a chance to Telha because he always go with aged players. Today match Gul , Hafiz, and Abdul Rehman are in and Azhar Ali, Telha are out.

  • POSTED BY Vikum72 on | December 31, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    If Sanga & Mahela click, we should be able to save at least a couple of matches. However a series defeat is inevitable, I fear.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | December 31, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    Why play Peasanna uf Chandi is going to keep wickets ? They could've played Adhan Priyanjana or Kithrywan instead. Bad selection policies. Also remember that Kaushal is also a 1st class keeper.

  • POSTED BY bouncer709 on | December 31, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    Good to see Ahmed Shehzad making his debut in Test, Bilawal Bhatti is also on Debut, but his inclusion is questionable, lets see what he can do, Abdur Rehman should have been given chance in his place. However, if not playing Abdul Rehman, then it is good idea to include Hafeez in place of Azhar Ali, specially seeing the form and runs scored by Hafeez Srilanka and he can do some bowling.

  • POSTED BY greenluv on | December 31, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    why younis again why could not they just keep young guy in the team now.... Younis is good but i guess now its time for him to stay home and help in domestic cricket if they really want to help Pakistan cricket in and by any means.... same goes to Hafeez.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | December 31, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Pal should not be complacent with their ODI RUN. Test croc is altogether a different ball game.

  • POSTED BY MurtaMac on | December 31, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    If Hafeez plays ahead of Azhar Ali (which I think might happen) that would be so unfair on a Test specialist like Azhar. I know he has been struggling of late but he is a talented player and going back to Hafeez, even though he is in sublime form sends a very wrong message to youngsters like him. Hope we get the bowler's selection right and don't go in with half fit players like Gul. Good luck Pakistan!

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Best of luck Team Pakistan...

  • POSTED BY TZ9383 on | December 31, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Today's My SL team 1 Kusal(he is in better form than Dimuth), 2 Kaushal, 3 Sanga, 4 Mahela, 5 Chandi, 6 Mathews, 7 Presanna, 8 Sachithra, 9 Herath, 10 Eranga 11 Vishva Fernado (because Pakistan always struggle against left arm fast bowlers) all the best Sri Lanka

  • POSTED BY Rocketman1 on | December 31, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    This Pakistan team is looking very well balanced with their fast bowling, spin bowling, and batting combinations if the ODI's are anything to go by. SL side seems a bit bare after Sanga and Mahela and the only bowling threat being Herath. This will be a good opportunity for the young guys to see where they sit against a good attack. SL really need to some answers to the poor excuses they have for fast bowlers. Eranga has the goods, but every team needs at least two!

  • POSTED BY shahnbej on | December 31, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    I don't think Misbah will give a chance to Telha because he always go with aged players. Today match Gul , Hafiz, and Abdul Rehman are in and Azhar Ali, Telha are out.

  • POSTED BY Vikum72 on | December 31, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    If Sanga & Mahela click, we should be able to save at least a couple of matches. However a series defeat is inevitable, I fear.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | December 31, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    Why play Peasanna uf Chandi is going to keep wickets ? They could've played Adhan Priyanjana or Kithrywan instead. Bad selection policies. Also remember that Kaushal is also a 1st class keeper.

  • POSTED BY Messa1 on | December 31, 2013, 1:21 GMT

    Dimuth is not a good selection. He got enough chances in Aus and against Bangladesh but he didn't use them properly, so he don't deserve anymore chances/at least not in this series. Instead Ashan Priyanjan should get a chance in tests since he did pretty good in his debut.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | December 30, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    Umar gul have to bowl at good lengths and try to seem the bowl and don't settle the openers...

  • POSTED BY HabeebRaja786 on | December 30, 2013, 22:31 GMT

    Pakistan should try some new players.My playing eleven would be Manzoor/Shan, Hafeez, Maqsood( not sure if he is test squad)Younis, Misbah, Shafique, Umar Akmal, Ajmal, Junaid, Talha, Rehman/Gull/Bhatti( not sure if he is test squad or not)

    I would love to give chance to Sohaib Maqsood considering his talent and scoring abilities.I would prefer umar akmal as a wicket keeper because Pakistan needs to strengthen the batting and both brothers are not best of keepers although Adnan is tinge better with gloves. Umar gul depending on pitch.I wish selectors could give Bhatti a green signal as his pace is very impressive and some times mere pace can help take wickets.

    I think Azhar Ali should be a chance in this series only if Sohaib Maqsood or Asad Shafique fails in first 2 tests.Or perhaps if both fails then Omer Amin should be given a chance in test matches on relatively batting friendly conditions as his debut was in England early summer against Anderson and co.

  • POSTED BY ClaudiaSL on | December 30, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    The first two tests will determine the future of Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    My Playing 11 ....!

    1 Khurram Manzoor, 2 Mohammad Hafeez 3 Younis Khan, 4. Asad Shafiq 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Azhar Ali, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman 9.Mohammad Talha/ Umar Gul (if umar gul is fit then i reckon umar gul) , 10. Saeed Ajmal, 11. Junaid Khan

  • POSTED BY haq33 on | December 30, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    Absolutely amazed by this premature confidence in the Pak team who remain liable to collapse at any moment, while SL have Sanga and MJ, whose very essence is the ability to slowly build and hold onto their wickets. The series rests on how expensive those 2 SL wickets will be and to be honest, I see them getting plenty of runs against a slightly over-confident Pak. The one old school batsman we had in recent times, who likes to preserve his wicket, was Taufeeq Umar. Incidentally he scores well against SL on mid east pitches. And somehow he has been left out to dry having done nothing wrong apart from getting injured. Even Misbah is not true old school as Sanga and MJ are. Misbah is purely a recovery man, which is a useful role in any team but far from a test match innings builder that we lack completely. Shame that nobody notices this blindingly obvious fact. Pak relies on a recovery man to be the front line test batsman - real problems against Herath are inevitable.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | December 30, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    Pakistan should play with this line-up: Shan Masood, Khuram Manzoor, Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Adnan Akmal, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Rahat Ali. Best I can come up with given the poor squad selected.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    Pakistan should not play Hafeez as an opener, he better come at number 6 and replace Asad. Shan and Manzoor should open and Younis to come onw down. 2 spinners will be required at AbuDhabi wicket and Talha should make way as a second seamer leaving out Gul who has just returned to international cricket. Pak should preserve him for ODI and T20. Sanga is a wall and the most difficult one to get out, hope young players from SL will prove their selection.

  • POSTED BY greek-paratha on | December 30, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    Pakistan may hold a few aces.but they tend to pack too many jokers in the pack. The front-line tend to fold too many times for my liking.Misbah-Younis might hold the stack up but the rest are shaky like a deck of cards bar a couple of trumps. However, the 1st Test against S.Africa a couple of months back should boost their confidence if The Sri-Lankans aren't in too much of a celebratory mood.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 19:39 GMT

    First of all Sri Lanka needs field practice. Whatever the bowlers best they do, without good fielding is going to be a waist. So SL train them to hold their catches, & stop the boundary balls from slipping through your fingers .

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    Surely Nuwan Kulasekera will be picked ahead of either Lakmal or Pradeep for SL? Nice of photo of Ajmal 'bowling'.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Sri Lanka need some players from ODI, to make a good team because playing complete different team will not have the strength just team spirit. PERFECT team for first test 1. Kusal Perera 2 .Thirimanna 3.SANGAKKARA 4.M. JAYAWARDANE 5.CHANDIMAL/ WK 6. Mathews 7.THISARA PERERA 8. Senanayake 9 .HERATH 10. Eranga 11. LAKMAL Important points: got four quick bowler, time for Chamdimal to take wicket keeper role. Don't work new team then bring seniors such as Prasanna and diliruwan. Mathews tack ticks of playing serious to win and then bringing younger ones players DONT WORK, because we haven't won serious quit a some time. If younger player play good then have the opportunity of playing more matches as we don't even play ten Test in a year.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    A three test series would be interesting this time. Kumar Sangakkara is in fine form and he would surely look forward to bag a couple of centuries this time. Mahela would dearly love to bag some quality runs against a quality opposition. The Herath vs Ajmal hype is a lively one and the quality off-spinners would look to dominate the proceedings. All in all, 2014 is all set to begin on an interesting note.

  • POSTED BY Hussain-Naseer on | December 30, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    In Pak team fresh blood like, Anwar Ali, Rahat Ali, Bilawal Bhatti should be given chance as they are young all-rounders, M. Irfan too a class bowler. Umar Gul is not a match winning bowler.

  • POSTED BY Prabhash1985 on | December 30, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    If Shaminda keeps on playing Test cricket, I believe he will be much better than Maali in future.

  • POSTED BY Prabhash1985 on | December 30, 2013, 18:00 GMT

    Hope Shaminda will be part of the team and reverse swing the old red leather ball while continuously hitting 140+. Going to be tough for Sri Lanka for sure, to be honest. But we can win! Come on Sri Lanka... Unity and understanding each ones role with responsibility are the keys ... Don't get tensed. All the best! You can win!

  • POSTED BY priceless1 on | December 30, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    only chance that SL have is a draw , they cannot win test matches with having only one wicket taking bowler in the side , so their batting must click in every game other wise it will be 3-0 to Pakistan

  • POSTED BY Desihungama on | December 30, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    @Stark- I completely agree on Fawad Alam. He should be part of Test squad. Period! But I am not yet ready to give up on Azhar Ali. He may not have the flair or technique of others but the he is only guy in team right now with grit of Gavaskar. It will come handy as his career lunges forward and learn the technique of Test cricket. He is destined to play long innings. Just a hunch on him.

  • POSTED BY Desihungama on | December 30, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    I rather have Azhar Ali in place of Shan Masood as I think this will be a comeback series for future great Azhar. Maqsood needs to establish credentials in ODI's before being thrusted into Test just as India did with Kohli, Dhawan.

  • POSTED BY Fogu on | December 30, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    Looking forward to a great test match. It will be interesting to see how SL fares against PK firepower. PK is strong favorites but SL is always a tough out. Good luck to both teams.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    sanga and mahela we want to see yours perfomance

  • POSTED BY android_user on | December 30, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    I prefer hafeez batting at 6 in tests. would want shehzad to open with masood azhar younus misbah hafeez akmal ajmal gul junaid talha or rahat

  • POSTED BY android_user on | December 30, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Pakistan hav the momentum, they just won the odis against sri lanka and went to south Africa and won aswell. Sri Lanka havnt played tests recently while there is no Dilshan. The experience is low and pakistan r full of experience and energy in younis khan, misbah, hafeez and gul

  • POSTED BY Farce-Follower on | December 30, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    I fear SL will get a hiding. They have always treated Test Cricket with distaste, often cancelling them, or settling for very few.Hence their performance and rankings (especially after Murali's retirement), has been pathetic. 2-0 to Pak, with a freak draw in between.

  • POSTED BY zarasochozarasamjho on | December 30, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    Hafeez is not a test-standard batsman. He should not be allowed to play tests. Unlike limited-overs matches, tests are for MEN only.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    I think Pakistan should go with 3 fast bowlers (Junaid, Gul and Talha) and Saeed Ajmal. M. Hafeez should be included at #3 and must be asked to play attacking cricket as he prefers to. I would not select Gul because he is just coming back from an injury, and his record in test isn't that great either. But we don't have any other option at the moment, otherwise I would pick Sadaf Hussain.

    The Pakistani openers aren't great either, so Ahmed Shehzad should find a place in.

    My XI: Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram/Shan, M. Hafeez, Younis, Misbah, Asad, Adnan (Rizwan would have been great here), Gul, Ajmal, Talha, Junaid.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 15:29 GMT

    @ yorkslanka : I appreciate your fair opinion on every forum. Tough assignment indeed but SL definitely has the talent who will be up for it but SL has not played tests for a while now which will make it all the more difficult for them. I dont see Malinga's name anywhere, though he has not been good so far on the tour but he would have brought experience to the young SL side for sure. After rooting for Pak in the ODIs, I would back SL in this one and expect this to be a good contest since they have the batting to match Pak's bowling.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Where is Maqsood, He is the great talent find recently and he should be in playing XI. My Team would be Masud, Ahmed, Mansoor, Azhar/Sohail, Maqsood, Sahfiq, Adnan, Rehman, Ajmal, Junaid, Talha. Hope PCB soon gives Maqsood chance to play in test.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | December 30, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    Pakistan and Sri Lanka Also good team but lankan some senior player played good test lets who's win.....

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | December 30, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    Pakistan win inshallah and Sri Lanka also good team lets see who win....

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | December 30, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Pakistan should persist with Ahmad Shehzad. I'll play Ahmad Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Said Ajmal, Junaid Khan and Talha.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    Sri lankas playing 11 is alot settled atm but the only concern is Dimuth who looks the weakest from the batting line up for now and i hope he shows the selectors that he's got what it takes at this level! If he fails, the selectors should try getting kusal to the test squad ASAP, he need to be hungry for runs, make big scores and learn to bat for long periods than being satisfied with a 50. He would me a match winner! Dilruwan and prassana should only carry drinks throughout this series and only get a chance if thiri/chandi or Senanayake fails !

    Lakmal and Eranga should play tomorrow!

    May the best team win C:

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    4 bowlers and a wicketkeeper,how about anwar ali instead of reinjuring gull the lull.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Hoping to see a double ton from sanga, a 10 wkt haul for both ajmal n herath and pak winning close matches by a few runs. Two of my fav teams playing in conditions perfect for eachother. Best of luck to my team green and my second fav lankan tigers.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | December 30, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    dimuth will give catch to pak 1 st or 2 nd slip

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    kusal janith should open with kaushal silva.dimuth will give catching practices for pakistani slip fielders..

  • POSTED BY billbowden311 on | December 30, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Please please no Umar Gul or Hafeez! They will ruin everything for the youngsters.

  • POSTED BY Abdullah07272 on | December 30, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    PAK should give a chance to Talha.he is a variety bowler

  • POSTED BY hellothereeveryone on | December 30, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    This is the best opportunity Pakistan is going to get to sort out their batting problems and come up with a batting line up that is more stable in the future.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | December 30, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    I think Lankan batsmen are more consistent when it comes to batting against Pak. Even though Pak has better bowlers, Lankan batsmen more than make up for it compared to Pak batsmen who get out on disappointing shots. I hope I'm wrong, though. Good luck to both teams. Wanting a Pak win. Let's hope the ODI mentality and confidence is carried in to the test arena.

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | December 30, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    Just imagine, a middle order consisting of: Younis, Yousuf, Inzi and Misbah!!

    The line up above could have been a reality with Misbah at no. 6 but instead, Pak selectors opted for the likes of Faisal Iqbal and Malik, who scored the odd century, plus some scratchy 40's and 80's with an average in the 30's.

    The same is happening to Fawad Alam today, he averages 55.71 in FC 9the highest domestically) with a HS of 296* but hasn't been called up to the squad because the selectors are once again, contempt with the odd 80, 70, 40 or once in a blue moon, hundred from Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq with an average in the 30's.

  • POSTED BY ms_chandio on | December 30, 2013, 10:51 GMT

    i,want to see cricket fans,

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Haris Sohail should be there in playing 11...

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | December 30, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    On paper the winner will be decided on how the SL batters play the quality Pak attack. Except for Herath, the rest of the SL attack is unlikley to win SL the game. Lots of youmgsters on both sides with an opportunity to make an impression and SL could potentially field 4 wickets keepers!

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    What is the definition of under prepared? Shall we put a team in some kind of machine to prepare them? These are professional players who are playing on pitches which are very similar to Sri Lankan pitches. Please make some sense.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Pak. is full of batsmen with negative mind set, with few exceptions, they are playing for a place in the team.I can see them stuggling against SL modest bowling attack. Over last 20 yr it is countries that have played positive cricket that have done well.

  • POSTED BY yorkslanka on | December 30, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    This is going to be a very difficult assignment for Sri Lanka. Pakistan has the best bowling attack in the world imho and we will have to bat well. I would like to see upul tharanga in the openers slot with dimuth as he always did well and I don't think he has had a fair chance. I would also like to see pradeep and eranga playing as they are the only pace bowlers we have.we must give them time to learn their trade.good luck to both teams but hoping for a win for Sri Lanka. A huge shout for both sets of fans who support their teams in the right way and give true respect to the opposition and build our great friendship.

  • POSTED BY MianMoosa on | December 30, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    My most favorite format of cricket arrives this time in UAE deserts. looking forward for exciting cricket as it was in shorter version,s. Pakistan may got a bit upper hand as srilanka are clearly short of match practise, the only worry for me from lankan side is kumar sangakkara & rangan herath, they both keep tremendous record in past Pakistan. Pakistan should go with 3 pacers, (junaid, talha & rahat) there is no point in playing rehman as lankan play spin very well, hafeez should come at No 3 to take full benefit of his recent form, my playing xi will be khurram, masood hafeez younis misbah asad akmal ajmal junaid rahat talha

  • POSTED BY Pak_Guru on | December 30, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Pak must try Rahat Ali, he really looked impressive in Zim. He has the pace, bounce and above all ability to swing the ball in to right handers. As per current form, Junaid and Rahat should be given a chance. This is surely make or break series for Adnan Akmal. Azhar Ali, Younis and Misbah will score lot of runs. The same opening pair that played last test Vs SA should be tried for the first two test and given confidence. If PAK play sensible cricket they have the team to white wash the test series. Fielding is the key especially close in fielders while spinners are on and slip catching. All the best.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    agreed with the writer that it will be hard to leave out hafeez from playing 11 after the ODI series. He will be a handy spinner on these wickets. ideally Ahmed should be opening but i think they will go with Khurram and hafeez. i dont think they will go with hafeez for azhar Ali.

    I think umar gul should not play in test. he has just made a comeback after 9 months and before last odi, there were reports that he has some treatment for his knee. They should go with Talha and Junaid. And play Rehman. 2 spinners and 2 pacers.

    I dont think any 1 is clear favorite going in to this game. We all know that Pak can be so poor on any day and world beater on their day. Same is with SL. Herath and Mahela's inclusion makes them strong. and if fast bowlers bowl with discipline then they can get pak cheaply.

    1- Hafeez 2-Khurram 3- Azhar/Ahmed 4- Younas 5- Misbah 6-Asad 7- Adnan 8- Ajmal 9- Rehman 10- Junaid 11- Talha

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    This is going to be a good series. Both teams are evenly matched. It is hard to tell which team will be victorious. Wishing Pakistan Cricket team all the best.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    Sri Lanka will beat Pakistan for the simple reason that they've got Jayawardane back and Rangana Herath as a a good spinner................

  • POSTED BY Nuwas on | December 30, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    I'm not gonna make predictions here as many would do. This is Test Cricket & it the true form of Cricket. Lets just wait till both teams play at least one innings each before boasting & condemning on past stats & all. Good Luck to both team & wish SL would take the series in style.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    I want Pakistan to go with young's instead of Gul cuz he is just recovered. If young delivered then he can relax otherwise he has two more matches to join and make team win...

  • POSTED BY hamza893 on | December 30, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Again we will say the dominance of Pak batsmen & bowlers over Srilankans.I predict 2-0 win or a whitewash by Pakistan.Saeed Ajmal is in the form of his life,his confidence will be very high after achieving many records this year.Misbah ul Haq the top ODI run scorer this year will be the key for Pakistan batting along with Asad who scored century in the last test against brutal bowling attack,he will also be high in confidence.Junaid Khan, the onnly fast bowler to take 50+ wickets this yeaer in ODI.Umar gul will try to use his experience.In Sri lankan team,only Sanga is the threat and if Sanga's wicket been taken early,it's all over for them.As a true Pakistani fan, I want my team to go for a whitewash and play tests in true sportsmanship.Go Team Pakistan Go ,make your country proud.BLEED GREEN.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    If youngsters deliver for Sri Lanka, then SL have big chance. Also Herath is going to play a big big role in this series. Come on Lions....!!!

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  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    If youngsters deliver for Sri Lanka, then SL have big chance. Also Herath is going to play a big big role in this series. Come on Lions....!!!

  • POSTED BY hamza893 on | December 30, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Again we will say the dominance of Pak batsmen & bowlers over Srilankans.I predict 2-0 win or a whitewash by Pakistan.Saeed Ajmal is in the form of his life,his confidence will be very high after achieving many records this year.Misbah ul Haq the top ODI run scorer this year will be the key for Pakistan batting along with Asad who scored century in the last test against brutal bowling attack,he will also be high in confidence.Junaid Khan, the onnly fast bowler to take 50+ wickets this yeaer in ODI.Umar gul will try to use his experience.In Sri lankan team,only Sanga is the threat and if Sanga's wicket been taken early,it's all over for them.As a true Pakistani fan, I want my team to go for a whitewash and play tests in true sportsmanship.Go Team Pakistan Go ,make your country proud.BLEED GREEN.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    I want Pakistan to go with young's instead of Gul cuz he is just recovered. If young delivered then he can relax otherwise he has two more matches to join and make team win...

  • POSTED BY Nuwas on | December 30, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    I'm not gonna make predictions here as many would do. This is Test Cricket & it the true form of Cricket. Lets just wait till both teams play at least one innings each before boasting & condemning on past stats & all. Good Luck to both team & wish SL would take the series in style.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    Sri Lanka will beat Pakistan for the simple reason that they've got Jayawardane back and Rangana Herath as a a good spinner................

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    This is going to be a good series. Both teams are evenly matched. It is hard to tell which team will be victorious. Wishing Pakistan Cricket team all the best.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    agreed with the writer that it will be hard to leave out hafeez from playing 11 after the ODI series. He will be a handy spinner on these wickets. ideally Ahmed should be opening but i think they will go with Khurram and hafeez. i dont think they will go with hafeez for azhar Ali.

    I think umar gul should not play in test. he has just made a comeback after 9 months and before last odi, there were reports that he has some treatment for his knee. They should go with Talha and Junaid. And play Rehman. 2 spinners and 2 pacers.

    I dont think any 1 is clear favorite going in to this game. We all know that Pak can be so poor on any day and world beater on their day. Same is with SL. Herath and Mahela's inclusion makes them strong. and if fast bowlers bowl with discipline then they can get pak cheaply.

    1- Hafeez 2-Khurram 3- Azhar/Ahmed 4- Younas 5- Misbah 6-Asad 7- Adnan 8- Ajmal 9- Rehman 10- Junaid 11- Talha

  • POSTED BY Pak_Guru on | December 30, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Pak must try Rahat Ali, he really looked impressive in Zim. He has the pace, bounce and above all ability to swing the ball in to right handers. As per current form, Junaid and Rahat should be given a chance. This is surely make or break series for Adnan Akmal. Azhar Ali, Younis and Misbah will score lot of runs. The same opening pair that played last test Vs SA should be tried for the first two test and given confidence. If PAK play sensible cricket they have the team to white wash the test series. Fielding is the key especially close in fielders while spinners are on and slip catching. All the best.

  • POSTED BY MianMoosa on | December 30, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    My most favorite format of cricket arrives this time in UAE deserts. looking forward for exciting cricket as it was in shorter version,s. Pakistan may got a bit upper hand as srilanka are clearly short of match practise, the only worry for me from lankan side is kumar sangakkara & rangan herath, they both keep tremendous record in past Pakistan. Pakistan should go with 3 pacers, (junaid, talha & rahat) there is no point in playing rehman as lankan play spin very well, hafeez should come at No 3 to take full benefit of his recent form, my playing xi will be khurram, masood hafeez younis misbah asad akmal ajmal junaid rahat talha

  • POSTED BY yorkslanka on | December 30, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    This is going to be a very difficult assignment for Sri Lanka. Pakistan has the best bowling attack in the world imho and we will have to bat well. I would like to see upul tharanga in the openers slot with dimuth as he always did well and I don't think he has had a fair chance. I would also like to see pradeep and eranga playing as they are the only pace bowlers we have.we must give them time to learn their trade.good luck to both teams but hoping for a win for Sri Lanka. A huge shout for both sets of fans who support their teams in the right way and give true respect to the opposition and build our great friendship.