Tillakaratne Dilshan will miss the first Test against New Zealand due a back niggle and, in his place, 24-year-old Dimuth Karunaratne will debut.
Dilshan's bad back had kept him out of the final two New Zealand ODIs as well. He had picked up the injury before the third ODI in Pallekele, where he made a century, and the team management left him out of the squad for the last two ODIs as a precaution.
Sri Lanka are hoping he will be fit for the second Test, Mahela Jayawardene said. "Dilshan has not come good with his back problem. We had a scan done. Batting he can probably manage, but on-the-field movements are still giving him problems," Jayawardene said on the eve of the Test. "We assessed him on Wednesday and he wasn't 100%, so we gave him this Test off and a week to see whether he could be fit for the next Test." The second match of the two-Test series begins on November 25 in Colombo.
Karunaratne, who had played two one-day internationals against England and Scotland last year, will partner Tharanga Paranavitana at the top of the order in Galle. "Dimuth has been consistent last season and had a good A-team tour to South Africa as well," Jayawardene said. "Opportunities need to be given when he is doing well.
"We have to see the bigger picture and that's why the selectors made the call on Dimuth. He has been very consistent for us and everyone is quite happy that he is going to make his debut tomorrow and looking forward to see him open the batting with Tharanga."
With the tour of Australia coming up, the selectors are looking to have several options for the openers' slot, Jayawardene said. "We might take an extra opening batsman. A tour of Australia doesn't come that often. If we can, we'll use that as a stepping stone for our youngsters to get to know what to expect in the future."