Low on confidence Pakistan will face spirited Sri Lanka in a historic two-match Test series which will start from December 11 in Rawalpindi.This will be the first Test series on the home soil for the Green Caps after a gap of more than a decade. The second and final game of the Test series will be played at National Cricket Stadium in Karachi from 19th December.
This series will also mark the complete return of international cricket in the country as the 20-over format and 50-over format have already being played in Pakistan since 2015.
The home side are coming in the series under some crisis after suffering a thumping 2-0 defeat in their last five-day assignment against Australia where they suffered an innings defeat in both matches which must be a cause of concern for the new team management.Therefore, the Men-in-Green will be hoping to turn things around while playing their first home Test series since 2009.
In the batting department, the Green Caps will be relying on the likes of in-form Babar Azam, veteran right-hander Asad Shafiq and wicket keeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan to score bulk of the runs. Babar Azam has shown excellent form for the side in this Test cricket this season. He has accumulated 354 runs in 4 matches at an average of 44.25. He has smashed one century and two half-centuries for the side in red-ball cricket.
Form of captain Azhar Ali will be under serious scrutiny as he had a below-par outing with the bat in the series Down Under. He has managed to score only 85 runs in 4 Test matches at an average of 10.62. Azhar Ali will be looking to deliver big performances for the side in this two-match Test series.
On the bowling front, the onus will be on the likes of pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi and leg-spinner Yasir Shah to produce timely breakthroughs.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka will be coming in the series with full of confidence as they registered a rather surprising whitewash in the 20-over format few months back while playing in the similar conditions, that too with a far inexperienced squad compared to the one which is set to arrive for the five-day format.
In the batting department, the visitors will be relying on the likes of captain Dimuth Karunaratne, veteran right-hander Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, experienced Angelo Mathews and wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera to score bulk of the runs whereas on the bowling front, the onus will be on the likes of Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara and Lakshan Sandakan to produce timely breakthroughs.
Both teams have faced each other 53 times in the five-day format where Pakistan have a slight edge with 19 wins compared to Sri Lanka’s 16 whereas one-third of the match (18) ended as a draw.
However, in the previous five meetings between both teams, it is clear advantage to the Islanders who have emerged victorious on four occasions compared to the one win from the Men-in-Green.
Those results becomes even more impressive considering the fact that three of those wins came in the Pakistan’s makeshift home—United Arab Emirates (UAE).