Sri Lanka have named two newcomers in their 15-man squad to tour Pakistan for two Tests, the first of which starts on February 22. Batsman Tharanga Paranavitana and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal force their way into the side, with opener Michael Vandort and fast bowler Dammika Prasad being cut from the squad that played two Tests in Bangladesh recently.
Paranavitana, who captains Sinhalese Sports Club in Sri Lanka's first-class competition, has scored 621 runs with three centuries at an average of 51.75 this season. Paranavitana, who finished the 2007-08 season by scoring back-to-back hundreds to lead his side to the title, also impressed on the A team's tour of South Africa in August-September last year. He hit one hundred and two half-centuries in two Tests against South Africa A and was picked by coach Chandika Hathurusingha as a future prospect for Sri Lanka.
Lakmal, who plays for Tamil Union, also impressed Hathurusingha on the South Africa tour. The coach felt Lakmal, 21, bowled impressively although his four wickets at 40.50 apiece in two Tests, and four at 50.75 in the one-dayers, suggest otherwise. He has taken 23 wickets at 29.21 each in Tier A of the Premier League Tournament this season.
Vandort's poor run has cost him his place. He failed to go past 50 in his past ten innings, with seven dismissals below 15. Prasad has taken nine wickets in two Tests, at an average of 34.22.
The first Test in Pakistan starts on February 22 and the second on March 2. Sri Lanka won the three-ODI series in Pakistan 2-1 last month.
Sri Lanka Test squad: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Malinda Warnapura, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Thilan Thushara, Suranga Lakmal.