Sri Lanka have banked more on spinners when they named a strong 18-member squad to face Pakistan in the upcoming two-match Test series starting from Saturday (16).
The selectors have made four changes from the squad that was named to take on Australia, as Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshitha Manasinghe, and Chamika Karunaratne have been left out.
Sri Lanka have plenty of spin options, with all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva and Jeffrey Vandersay back in the squad after recovering from Covid.
30-year-old Prabath Jayasuriya is likely to lead the spin attack after his twin six-fers played an invaluable role in the win against Australia.
Jayasuriya’s 12 wickets has been registered as the best haul for a Sri Lankan on Test debut, and the fourth-best for a debutant overall.
Prabath will be well supported by Maheesh Theekshana and Ramesh Mendis to share the spinning duties with him, and they will also have another option in Under-19 skipper Dunith Wellalage, who is in the squad.
Dimuth Karunaratne will be looking to build on their winning momentum in Galle with Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and the in-form Dinesh Chandimal to provide the bulk of the batting support.
Sri Lanka head into the Pakistan series after two contrasting results in Galle, where they first lost to Australia on a vicious turner, and then bounced back to hammer the tourists with an innings victory.
Meanwhile, the visitors, led by Babar Azam, have bolstered their spin attack by giving veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah a comeback into the Test team.
Babar himself has been in roaring form with the bat and recently hit 196 against Australia in the team’s home series, which they ended up losing 1-0 in March.
Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq have also been among the runs, and if Sri Lanka are to pin down Pakistan their bowlers will have to be decent in their line and length in most probably a spinning wicket in Galle.
The series will be an important one for both sides in their World Test Championship campaign, with the islanders placed third and Pakistan fourth.
Test Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Prabath Jayasuriya, Dunith Wellalage, Jeffrey Vandersay
By Mustaq Sydeen