The First Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. The match starts at 10.00 AM local time(05.00 AM GMT).
After a hiatus of a decade, cricket’s ultimate format returns to Pakistan. Sri Lanka who suffered the horrific attack in 2009, has graciously accepted the invitation of their Asian neighbors. This series would probably give the confidence to players of other countries so that normal cricketing ties resume in Pakistan.
Coming into the series, both teams have had contrasting starts to their World Test Championship campaign. Sri Lanka came from behind to win the first Test while lost the second Test against New Zealand at home. Pakistan suffered a humiliating 2-0 defeat against Australia. With familiar conditions for both the teams, they would be eager to get some usual points in the championship.
The match is expected to be affected by many rain breaks as forecasts suggest rain in all five days of the Test match. With an average precipitation of 75% is being predicted, rain might stop play numerous times during the game.
Pitch Condition/Report: The pitch in Rawalpindi is a traditional pitch in Asian conditions where it is good for batting in the first three days of the game while the ball begins to spin on Day 4 and Day 5. The pitch will assist bowlers on the first morning and if the new ball is negotiated, then batsmen could score big. If the weather stays good, then the match will produce a result with an equal contest with bat and ball.
Average first innings score 286 (Last 5 Tests matches)* Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium last hosted a Test match in 2004.
Record of teams batting first: Won – 1, Lost – 3, Drawn – 1
Injury and Availability:
Sri Lanka – Kasun Rajitha replaces Akila Dananjaya.
Pakistan – Fawad Alam replaces Iftikhar Ahmed.
Probable Playing XIs:
Shan Masood, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Imran Khan, Mohammad Abbas.
Bench – Haris Sohail, Abid Ali, Naseem Shah Kashif Bhatti, Usman Shinwari.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Lasith Embuldeniya.
Bench – Vishwa Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan.
Babar Azam was Pakistan’s lone bright spot from their tour to Australia. He will continue to amass more runs. Yasir Shah succeeded with both bat and ball. Hence it is a no-brainer to have these two in the fantasy teams.
Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne has lead from the front in his short stint as captain. His captaincy and batting helped Sri Lanka win a Test series in South Africa. Experienced Angelo Mathews will again hold the key in the middle order.
Captain and Vice-Captain Selection:
Captain – Babar Azam, Yasir Shah, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirumanne
Vice-Captain – Azhar Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dilruwan Perera
Suggested Playing XI No.1 for Fantasy Cricket:
Keeper – Niroshan Dickwella
Batters – Babar Azam (C), Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Shan Masood
All-Rounders – Dhananjaya De Silva (VC), Azhar Ali
Bowlers – Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Kumara, Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah
Suggested Playing XI No.2 for Fantasy Cricket:
Keeper – Mohammad Rizwan
Batters – Babar Azam, Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Fawad Alam
All-Rounders – Dhananjaya De Silva, Dilruwan Perera
Bowlers – Suranga Lakmal, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah
With two innings in place, picking more batsmen than bowlers would be appropriate for fantasy teams. Both teams boast of quality batsmen hence the likes of Babar, Karunaratne, Kusal Perera and Azhar Ali should find their place. Spin will play a huge part and with Yasir Shah and Dilruwan Perera possessing the ability to contribute with the bat as well, these two pick themselves. As Test cricket returns to the nation after 10 years, the curators might play safe by opting for a batting track. Hence, more batsmen could fetch more points.
With Pakistan winning the ODI series and Sri Lanka winning the T20 series, both teams would like to outdo each other in Tests. With the Home advantage in place, Pakistan might edge ahead against Sri Lanka.