Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Galle June 21, 2012

Sri Lanka, Pakistan have point to prove


Match facts

June 22-26, Galle
Start time 1000 (0430 GMT)

Big Picture

Certain pre-series predictions have come to nothing at the conclusion of the ODIs. Recent form suggested that Pakistan began the one-dayers with an upper hand before the first ball was bowled, but in the course of two weeks, the balance shifted quite comprehensively. As a result, the Test series begins with an air of caution for Pakistan, despite their form in Tests being reassuring. They'll do well to remember that they are taking guard in a format that has rewarded them for their doggedness and consistency. Since the tour of England in 2010, they haven't conceded a series in their next seven, that run including a 3-0 whitewash of the No.1 ranked England in February this year.

Sri Lanka have failed to win a Test series since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement in 2010, casting doubts about their ability to challenge the best, let alone win. Wins against England and South Africa are indicators that they're starting to learn how to win again. A 3-1 ODI series win has given them a kick too, but the question is if they can maintain that dominance in the Tests. That said, the Tests could be quite interesting as both sides have plenty to prove.

While the aim will be to inch up the ICC Test rankings, both teams have an opportunity to establish Asian Test supremacy. That's partly owing to India's sudden freefall from the summit. After two ruthless thrashings away from home, India has slid to No.4, with just a slender lead on Pakistan. Pakistan will need to win comprehensively to go ahead of India. Sri Lanka have a lot of catching up to do to get to either side, but a series win will narrow that gap nevertheless.

Change has been forced on Pakistan, with a new captain standing in for the banned Misbah-ul-Haq. Despite Misbah's lack of form, it's still not ideal for their build-up. Mohammad Hafeez isn't among the runs himself, yet he's been given the responsibility of leading the team. Fortunately, the nucleus hasn't been disturbed. Their spin trio of Saeed Ajmal, Hafeez and Abdur Rehman remains. It will be interesting if Sri Lanka produces turning tracks, as it could be counter-productive for the hosts, who will rely primarily on one spinner. Since January 2010, Galle has been favourable for spinners and seamers, with 71 and 53 wickets respectively. Negating the spinners will be key to Sri Lanka's chances, irrespective of the surface. The weather, and expected rains, will be a factor too.

The DRS is unavailable for the Tests because the Sri Lankan board couldn't secure the funding for it.

Form guide

Sri Lanka LWLWL (Most recent first)
Pakistan WWWWW

Watch out for...

Azhar Ali: The only positive for Pakistan from the one-dayers, albeit a surprising one, considering he wasn't a regular in Pakistan's one-day plans. With the seniors misfiring, he took on more responsibility than expected. Unfortunately, due to lack of adequate support, he wasn't able to close out games. He puts a price on his wicket, and Sri Lanka will be wary of that.

Rangana Herath: Pakistan will have bad memories of facing him in Sri Lanka in 2009. With 15 wickets in three games, Herath was central to Pakistan's bewildering collapses in Galle and Colombo. Herath was rested after the first two ODIs in Pallekele on this tour, keeping in mind his expected workload in the Tests. Expect plenty of overs from him.

Pitch and conditions

The weather in Galle has been hot and humid with no rain in the immediate build-up to the game. Both captains didn't make any decisive comments about the pitch. Mahela Jayawardene said it looked a 'true' surface.

Team news

No apparent hints about the playing XIs either. Misbah's absence leaves a slot open in the middle order. If Pakistan choose not to risk a debutant when they're already struggling with the bat, then Faisal Iqbal could be recalled.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Taufeeq Umar, 2 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Azhar Ali, 5 Faisal Iqbal, 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Aizaz Cheema

Sri Lanka will have to decide if they want to play two seam-bowling allrounders, at the expense of a specialist seamer. If they decide against it, then Thisara Perera may have to sit out, since Nuwan Kulasekara has been recalled.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Tharanga Paranavitana, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Suraj Randiv, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Chanaka Welegedera

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan have played two Tests in Galle, winning the first (in 2000) and losing the next (2009)
  • Rangana Herath has taken 30 wickets in six Tests in Galle, with three five-wicket hauls and a ten-wicket haul
  • Mahala Jayawardene has aggregated 2017 runs in 19 matches in Galle, with seven centuries


"To be honest, we're not thinking of that otherwise it will put unnecessary pressure on us. We'd like to take it one game at a time."
Mohammad Hafeez, when asked if his team was already focussing on moving up the rankings

"We need to give a lot of confidence to Suraj Randiv as he's a top-class bowler, and hopefully this will be a breakthrough series for him."
Mahela Jayawardene on getting Rangana Herath support in the spin department

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Missing Mr. Tuk Tuk in the 1st test, the best batsman of the time.

  • Pasan on June 22, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    Just Try out Chandimal instead of Paranavithana.@ all he too is an opener and more consistant.I hoped Tirimanne could retain the Opening slot after his performance in ODI's.But if Paranavithana or anybody else just keep scoring Ducks and 10s and if he suddenly scores a century he'll be taken in to the next game and won't think about his consistancy.IMO:the best thing to win matches is consistancy. We can expect weeknesses in Paistan batting order w/o Misbah.So it'll be better if we can try somebody like Nuwan Pradeep(A genuine quickee who can clock 90mph consistantly) and Jeewan mendis because it'll help all of us to build up a better team.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    Probably the worst pakistani line up i see in years :( why dont our selectors know how modern cricket is played. Test matches do not mean select a line up full of TUK TUK TUK! the probable line up stated in the article with likes of taufeeq umar faisal iqbal and Hafeez who is totally out of form wont be able to keep the scoreboard moving... and Why is Sohail Tanvir not there! the only fast bowler that performed well all through the ODI series!!! Umar akmal should have been included as wel! cuz there needs to be someone who can score some runs at a decent pace it doesnt mean twenty 20 style it just means keep the score board moving! and plus he is a great fielder as well we cant afford drop catches in test matches!!!!!!!

  • saman on June 22, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    No doubt, Sri Lanka has an edge over Pakistan in this test. Galle has been a happy hunting ground for them. Rangana Herath will be the key. Recent form of the Sri Lankan middle order will be a factor on the outcome of the match. It will be interesting to watch.....

  • sachit on June 22, 2012, 3:29 GMT

    @Sinhaya i'm inclined to agree regarding Senanayake. But as far as Chanaka Welagedara is concerned I think he deserves a place in the playing XI. Yes,he has not been setting the world on fire,and was poor in the England tour but he has picked up two 5 fors in his last 5 Tests. Thisara has picked up 7 wickets in his last five games. (he has only played 5 btw)

  • sachit on June 22, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    @Dean Frenkel - true that, The last full test series Mendis played was as far as i remember in 2010/11 against West Indies. He picked up Chanderpaul in almost every innings and claimed 6 for in the game that Gayle thrashed 333. Both Mendis and Randiv are better Limited overs bowlers - but certainly Mendis deserves another go - at the expense of Randiv who is to be honest a decent bowler albeit one not upto test level. It was not long ago Mendis picked up 6 wickets against Australia in a T20 - proving that there is still something left in him.

  • Wicky on June 22, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    @Superstar100,evry team have its excuses,when lankans were clueles in uae,some of fans puttng up umpirng decisions n batng colapses as big factor,n what about "great team india"(worst in actual),my point z ist of all we dn't thnk that it z too easy 4 any team to win test series against pak nowadays,2ndly if any team wons off and on,then we deserve our share excuses lolz

  • Shujaat Ali on June 22, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    So people please dont be aggressive, we as a nation are aggressive and dont understand what calmness can bring - i donot have any doubts in the abilities of Afridi or Hafeez, but i think right now the best man for Captaincy is Misbah (the tuk tuk), because we have had lots of Shahzad's and Latif's and many other who could hit it hard - but they did not take you to 9 wins out of 15 and the Asia Cup for so long - please try and understand the facts

    I still remember people used to shout for Sami to come back and say he is the best bowler, now we know why he was left out in the first place - for people who say that he is not to be used in death overs, goshh!! he is a bowler, he should know how to bowl in death overs...

    CONCLUSION - Let the selectors do their job - they know best what they are doing in circumstances prevailing - and No "My team for ODIs".. we dont knwo what they are upto and what conditions to play in... Relax and dont go with your heart - Use your Minds... Best of Luck

  • Shujaat Ali on June 22, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Second - Afridi as a Captain - No doubts Afridi is a stalwart, and he has already proved his captaincy skills in the world Cup too... But i think if Afridi wants to be great, he should not let happen to Misbah what happened to him after the World Cup!!! He must support Misbah, which he right now is NOT!!!! (Sorry Afridi Fans)... He needs to get off the screen, concentrate on his bowling and batting, and do for the team what the team needs... Just like Younus, he is trying at least and not trying to become the Captain again... So Afridi needs to follow his footsteps.... as Afridi always says - Mei tau mulk kay liye khailta hun - Mare words dont do anything Khan saab, you have to support it with actions too...

    Third - Hafeez - I think he needs to concentrate on his batting, he has lost it since the time he took over as captaincy, may be he is too young to be given the responsibility as of now....

  • Shujaat Ali on June 22, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    Hello Guys.. I have been through much of your comments and i follow them all the times.. a lot of emotion i must say... Having played 2nd Class Cricket in Pakistan myself, i enjoy them too... I would like to comment on some very common comments that i often read..

    First - Misbah's Captaincy... Man are you guys kidding me?? He is the most mature head in Pakistan Cricket - Mind You guys.... Look from where he took up the role (England 2010), and look where we are today... in tests, even one dayers... who ever oppose him for his consistency in batting, please go check the records again... look at his averages, recent records and you shall find for yourself.. he is THE MAN in Pakistan Cricket Team right now.... Mature, Upright, Consistent -- Yes, i would disagree on his defensive role, but not everyone can be perfect -- He STILL remains the best option (As compared to the likes of Hafeez, Afridi, Younus)... and being the eldest in age, he is an inspiration for the YOUNG GUNS too!!!!!

  • No featured comments at the moment.