Herath spins Sri Lanka to dramatic win

27 September 2017 02:50 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A Test that was prefaced with a lament on both sides over the absence of legends of the recent past was settled when a modern master took his 400th Test wicket, and bowled Sri Lanka to a stunning victory in the process.

No Kumar Sangakkara, or Mahela Jayawardene? No Misbah-ul-Haq, or Younis Khan? No problem. Ranagana Herath is keeping the flame alive.

Greatness debates often overlook the left-arm wiles of Herath. No matter what label is put on it, his sleight of hand was the difference as Sri Lanka upset most informed expectations on a remarkable final day at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

His dismissal of Mohammed Abbas sent Pakistan to a 21-run loss. It was his sixth in the innings, and 11th in the match.

It was also his eighth haul of five wickets or more in Tests against Pakistan. On the fourth evening, Herath had understatedly acknowledged that the reason Pakistan have provided more victims for him than any other side down the years is simply because he has played more against them than anyone else.

Still, though, positive memories of the past will no doubt have fuelled his belief that the Test could be won, when Sri Lanka were tasked with defending a meagre target of 136 in 63 overs in the fourth innings.

The fact Sri Lanka head to Dubai for the second match, and their first floodlit Test, knowing they cannot lose the series is a remarkable effort on a number of counts.

Firstly, they arrived in the UAE in a certain state of disarray, after a woeful year that has seen their captaincy armband thrown around more liberally than the practice balls in fielding drills before the start of play.

Then factor in there were still 20 wickets left to fall with four sessions left in the match. If a result appeared out of the question at that point, it appeared all but certain once the Sri Lankans had crumbled to 138 all out in their second innings.

The fact it would be Sri Lanka who would be signing for a win at the end of the day will not have been universally foreseen. But Pakistan’s new-look side, under new captain Sarfraz Ahmed, wilted under the pressure.

Twenty-three years to the day after one of Pakistan’s most remarkable run-chases ever in Tests, the class of 2017 fell short of a repeat.

Back in 1994, two of the great figures from the country’s cricket history combined in a thriller against Australia in Karachi. Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed were united in a 57-run alliance for the 10th wicket to win the Test.

How they could have done with the experience of those two here.

Haris Sohail, who provided the home side’s most dogged resistance in the face of the spin threat of Herath and Dilruwan Perera, was on debut.

Mohammed Abbas, who set up the final-day drama with a brilliant morning spell of reverse-swing bowling, is playing just his fourth game. Hasan Ali, battling a glute injury, was in his second game.

Haris and the captain Sarfraz had appeared to be taking their side to victory when they fought back from a woeful start to the fourth innings to drag their side to 78 for five.

Herath, though, had Sarfraz stumped by Niroshan Dickwella, and the hosts were unable to recover, as they crumbled to 114 all out.

Sri Lanka 1st innings 419 (D. Chandimal 155no, D. Karunaratne 93, N. Dickwella 83)            

Pakistan  1st innings 422 (A. Ali 85, H. Sohail 76, S. Masood 59, S. Aslam 51; R. Herath 5-93)

Sri Lanka 2nd innings (Overnight: 69-4)

Dimuth Karunaratne               c Masood b Shah         10 

Kaushal Silva                    lbw b Sohail            25 

Lahiru Thirimanne                c S. Ahmed b Shafiq     7  

Kusal Mendis                     lbw b Abbas             18 

Dinesh Chandimal                 c Shafiq b Shah         7  

Suranga Lakmal                   c B. Azam b Abbas       13 

Niroshan Dickwella               not out                 40 

Dilruwan Perera                  lbw b Shah              6  

Rangana Herath                   c Masood b Shah         0  

Lakshan Sandakan                 c Amir b Shah           8  

Nuwan Pradeep                    b H. Ali                0  

Extras                           (lb-3 nb-1)             4  

Total                            (all out, 66.5 overs)   138

Fall of wickets: 1-20 D. Karunaratne,2-33 L. Thirimanne,3-51 K. Silva,4-65 D. Chandimal,5-73 K. Mendis,6-86 S. Lakmal,7-101 D. Perera,8-101 R. Herath,9-135 L. Sandakan,10-138 N. Pradeep

Bowling                    

Mohammad Amir                    12 - 4 - 27 - 0            

Mohammad Abbas                   12 - 3 - 22 - 2(nb-1)      

Yasir Shah                       27 - 5 - 51 - 5            

Hasan Ali                        7.1 - 0 - 21 - 1           

Asad Shafiq                      3.4 - 0 - 7 - 1            

Haris Sohail                     5 - 2 - 7 - 1              

Pakistan 2nd innings (Target: 136 runs)

Shan Masood                      c K. Silva b D. Perera  7  

Sami Aslam                       c Karunaratne b Herath  2  

Azhar Ali                        c Dickwella b Lakmal    0  

Asad Shafiq                      c Karunaratne b Herath  20 

Babar Azam                       c Dickwella b D. Perera 3  

Haris Sohail                     lbw b D. Perera         34 

Sarfraz Ahmed                    st Dickwella b Herath   19 

Hasan Ali                        b Herath                8  

Mohammad Amir                    b Herath                9  

Yasir Shah                       not out                 6  

Mohammad Abbas                   lbw b Herath            0  

Extras                           (b-1 lb-4 nb-1)         6  

Total                            (all out, 47.4 overs)   114

Fall of wickets: 1-4 S. Aslam,2-7 Az. Ali,3-16 S. Masood,4-32 B. Azam,5-36 A. Shafiq,6-78 S. Ahmed,7-98 H. Sohail,8-100 H. Ali,9-111 M. Amir,10-114 M. Abbas

Pakistan:

Bowling                    

Suranga Lakmal                   5 - 1 - 12 - 1             

Rangana Herath                   21.4 - 4 - 43 - 6          

Dilruwan Perera                  18 - 4 - 46 - 3(nb-1)      

Nuwan Pradeep                    2 - 1 - 4 - 0              

Lakshan Sandakan                 1 - 0 - 4 - 0  

Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah grabbed the key wicket of Dinesh Chandimal to leave Sri Lanka fighting to avoid defeat after the fourth day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The prolific wicket-taker took 2-25 as Sri Lanka struggled to 69-4, needing a rearguard action to save the Test.

Pakistan will be expecting to push for victory in the opening match of a two-Test series on the fifth and final day.

It was tough to negotiate spin on a fourth-day Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch, but despite a 32nd Test five-wicket haul for veteran Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath, Pakistan posted 422 to take a slender three-run lead.

Sri Lanka had made 419 in their first innings.

At the close, Kusal Mendis was batting on 16, with nightwatchman Suranga Lakmal on two, after a day of fluctuating fortunes.

Herath's 5-93 in 40 overs were well foiled by a brilliant 76 by Test debutant Haris Sohail, as initially it looked as though Sri Lanka would take a first-innings lead.

Pakistan then hit back in the second innings through Shah, who first had opener Dimuth Karunaratne caught for 10 and then dismissed first-innings centurion Chandimal, caught at slip, for seven.

Sohail followed his responsible knock by claiming Kaushal Silva's wicket, whom he trapped leg before for 25, while part-timer Asad Shafiq had Lahiru Thirimanne for seven.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan too were struggling at 316-6 and were in danger of conceding a healthy lead with Herath using all his experience and guile.

The 39-year-old left-arm spinner, who now has 394 wickets in 84 Tests, gave his team the much-needed wicket of a resolute Azhar Ali, luring him into an uppish drive which was brilliantly caught at short mid-wicket by a diving Mendis.

Azhar's defiant knock of 85 lasted more than five hours and included four boundaries, but with his dismissal Pakistan's hopes of building a lead looked slim.

But Sohail had other ideas as he added an invaluable 50 for the ninth wicket with tail-ender Hasan Ali to lift Pakistan from 340-8.

Sohail hit seven fours and two sixes before holing out to paceman Nuwan Pradeep, who finished with 2-77. Hasan's whirlwind 25-ball 29 featured three sixes and two fours.

The second and final Test — a day-night affair — will be played in Dubai from October 6.

Sri Lanka 1st innings 419 (D. Chandimal 155no, D. Karunaratne 93, N. Dickwella 83)

1st innings (Overnight: 266-4)

Shan Masood                      b Herath                  59 

Sami Aslam                       lbw b D. Perera           51 

Azhar Ali                        c sub b Herath            85 

Asad Shafiq                      c Thirimanne b Herath     39 

Babar Azam                       c Dickwella b Pradeep     28 

Haris Sohail                     c Lakmal b Pradeep        76 

Sarfraz Ahmed                    b Lakmal                  18 

Mohammad Amir                    lbw b Lakmal              4  

Yasir Shah                       c Thirimanne b Herath     8  

Hasan Ali                        st Dickwella b Herath     29 

Mohammad Abbas                   not out                   1  

Extras                           (b-5 lb-9 nb-8 w-2)       24 

Total                            (all out, 162.3 overs)    422

Fall of wickets: 1-114 S. Aslam,2-116 S. Masood,3-195 A. Shafiq,4-266 B. Azam,5-294 Az. Ali,6-316 S. Ahmed,7-326 M. Amir,8-340 Y. Shah,9-390 H. Ali,10-422 H. Sohail

To bat:

Bowling                    

Suranga Lakmal 22 - 5 - 42 - 2(nb-1 w-1), Nuwan Pradeep 25.3 - 1 - 77 - 2(nb-6), Dilruwan Perera  37 - 10 - 92 - 1(nb-1), Lakshan Sandakan 35 - 7 - 98 - 0(w-1), Rangana Herath 40 - 12 - 93 – 5, Dimuth Karunaratne 3 - 1 - 6 - 0                 

Sri Lanka 2nd innings      

Dimuth Karunaratne               c Masood b Shah           10 

Kaushal Silva                    lbw b Sohail              25 

Lahiru Thirimanne                c S. Ahmed b Shafiq       7  

Kusal Mendis                     not out                   16 

Dinesh Chandimal                 c Shafiq b Shah           7  

Suranga Lakmal                   not out                   2  

Extras                           (lb-1 nb-1)               2  

Total                            (for 4 wickets, 40 overs) 69 

Fall of wickets: 1-20 D. Karunaratne,2-33 L. Thirimanne,3-51 K. Silva,4-65 D. Chandimal

To bat: D. Perera, R. Herath, N. Dickwella, L. Sandakan, N. Pradeep

Bowling: Mohammad Amir 7 - 2 - 14 – 0, Mohammad Abbas  6 - 2 - 7 - 0(nb-1) Yasir Shah 14 - 2 - 25 - 2, Hasan Ali  4.2 - 0 - 8 – 0, Asad Shafiq 3.4 - 0 - 7 – 1, Haris Sohail  5 - 2 - 7 - 1

Azhar defies Sri Lanka in first Test       

Azhar Ali once more rescued Pakistan's batting with a fighting half century on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.The one-drop batsman was unbeaten on 74 but saw Babar Azam fell for 28 in the last over of the day as Pakistan finished on 266-4 on a Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch which has started to assist spinners.

Pakistan still trail the Sri Lankan first innings total of 419 by 153 runs with six wickets intact.
Pakistan had pinned their hopes on Ali in the post Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq era who retired in May this year after shouldering team's batting for nearly seven years.
A cautious Ali made sure Pakistan do not concede a big lead in the first innings, having hit only one boundary in his 26th Test half century.
In all Ali has so far hit three boundaries during his 297 minutes of batting. He added 79 for the third wicket with Asad Shafiq who made 39 to take the fight to Sri Lankan three-pronged spin attack.
Veteran left-arm spinner Herath was the most successful bowler with 2-47.
When on 32, Ali also completed 5,000 Test runs in his 61st Test. He became the eighth Pakistan batsmen behind Younis Khan (10,099), Javed Miandad (8832) Inzamam-ul-Haq (8829), Mohammad Yousuf (7530), Salim Malik (5768), Misbah (5222) and Zaheer Abbas (5062) to reach the milestone.

But it was the opening pair of Shan Masood and Sami Aslam who set the platform for a big total by putting together a solid 114-run opening stand after they resumed at 64 without loss.
Sri Lanka, however, hit back by removing both openers in the space of two runs.
Aslam, recalled after being dropped from the West Indies tour on disciplinary grounds earlier this year, was trapped leg-before by off-break bowler Dilruwan Perera. He hit four boundaries in his seventh Test half century.
Two runs later Masood attempted a sweep shot off the wily Herath but missed the ball and was bowled round his legs.
Pakistan had luck on their side with the reviews as both Ali and Shafiq survived confident appeals. Ali wisely reviewed a leg-before decision off Perera, but the ball hit his bat before the pad.
Shafiq was given not out on a review when he was stumped off Herath on one.
It was Herath who finally dislodged Shafiq when a sharp turner caught an edge off Shafiq's bat, deflected from wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella's thigh to slip where Lahiru Thirimanne took the catch.

Sri Lanka 1st innings 419 (D. Chandimal 155 not out, D. Karunaratne 93, N. Dickwella 83; Abbas 3-75, Yasir Shah 3-120)

Pakistan Ist innings (overnight 64-0)

Shan Masood b Herath59

Sami Aslam lbw b Perera51

Azhar Ali not out74

Asad Shafiq c Thirimanne b Herath39

Babar Azam c Dickwella b Pradeep28

Extras: (b4, lb9, nb2)15

Total: (for four wkts; 112.4 overs) 266

To bat: Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas

Fall of wickets: 1-114 (Aslam), 2-116 (Masood), 3-195 (Shafiq), 4-266 (Azam)

Bowling: Lakmal 15-3-30-0 (1nb), Pradeep 16.4-1-44-1, Perera 27-7-58-1, Sundakan 26-6-68-0, Herath 25-6-47-2, Karunaratne 3-1-6-0 Toss: Sri Lanka Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (ENG)and Nigel Llong (ENG) TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)

Captain Dinesh Chandimal made an unbeaten 155 as Sri Lanka put the pressure on Pakistan on the second day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Openers Sami Aslam (31 not out) and Shan Masood (30 not out) negotiated 23 overs to take Pakistan to 64-0, still trailing Sri Lanka's first-innings total of 419 by 355 runs.

They need another 156 to avoid the follow-on, a task which should be simple on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.

Both Masood and Aslam, opening for the first time together, looked assured as Sri Lanka attacked through all their three spinners and two seamers in short spells.

But it was a memorable day for Sri Lankan skipper Chandimal, whose marathon knock of over nine hours in hot conditions propelled his team to a strong total.

He came in to bat with his team in trouble at 61-3 on Thursday, but led the fightback in a fourth-wicket stand of 100 with Dimuth Karunaratne (93).

On Friday, after Sri Lanka resumed at 227-4, Chandimal added 134 for the fifth wicket with Niroshan Dickwella (83) and another 92 for the sixth with Dilruwan Perera, who made 33.

Chandimal faced 372 balls and struck 14 boundaries to leave Pakistan toiling for wickets, before the tail succumbed to some good pace bowling by Mohammad Abbas, who took 3-75.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah finished with 3-120 in a marathon 57 overs of hard work.

The Chandimal-Dickwella stand was only broken in the 22nd over of the day when Dickwella played on to fast bowler Hasan Ali, spurning a good chance to post his maiden Test hundred.

Dickwella hit nine boundaries and a six during his rapid 117-ball knock and bettered his previous best Test effort of 81, made against Zimbabwe in Colombo earlier this year.

Chandimal reached his ninth Test century -- his first in four matches as captain, and first against Pakistan -- by driving left-arm paceman Mohammad Amir through the covers for his 11th boundary.

Pakistan's misery was compounded as they did get Perera twice on nought, but the all-rounder made successful reviews on both decisions -- once each off Shah and Haris Sohail.

Perera also survived a stumping decision before finally falling to part-timer Sohail for his first wicket.

Shah then had Rangana Herath for four before Abbas took the wickets of Lakshan Sundakan (eight) and Nuwan Pradeep (nought) from successive deliveries.

 

Sri Lanka 1st innings      

Dimuth Karunaratne               run out (Abbas, S. Ahmed) 93 

Kaushal Silva                    b H. Ali                  12 

Lahiru Thirimanne                lbw b Shah                0  

Kusal Mendis                     c S. Ahmed b Shah         10 

Dinesh Chandimal                 not out                   155

Niroshan Dickwella               b H. Ali                  83 

Dilruwan Perera                  lbw b Sohail              33 

Rangana Herath                   c B. Azam b Shah          4  

Suranga Lakmal                   lbw b Abbas               7  

Lakshan Sandakan                 lbw b Abbas               8  

Nuwan Pradeep                    b Abbas                   0  

Extras                           (lb-11 nb-3)              14 

Total                            (all out, 154.5 overs)    419

Fall of wickets: 1-34 K. Silva,2-35 L. Thirimanne,3-61 K. Mendis,4-161 D. Karunaratne,5-295 N. Dickwella,6-387 D. Perera,7-396 R. Herath,8-408 S. Lakmal,9-419 L. Sandakan,10-419 N. Pradeep

To bat:

Bowling                    

Mohammad Amir 27 - 5 - 63 – 0, Mohammad Abbas 26.5 - 0 - 75 - 3(nb-2)      

Yasir Shah 57 - 11 - 120 – 3, Hasan Ali 27 - 6 - 88 - 2(nb-1), Shan Masood 1 - 1 - 0 – 0, Haris Sohail  13 - 0 - 51 – 1, Asad Shafiq 3 - 0 - 11 - 0               

Pakistan 1st innings       

Shan Masood                      not out                   30 

Sami Aslam                       not out                   31 

Extras                           (lb-2 nb-1)               3  

Total                            (, 23 overs)              64 

Fall of wickets:

Pakistan: A. Ali, A. Shafiq, B. Azam, H. Sohail, S. Ahmed, M. Amir, Y. Shah, M. Abbas, H. Ali

Bowling                    

Suranga Lakmal  4 - 0 - 12 - 0(nb-1), Nuwan Pradeep 5 - 0 - 13 – 0, Dilruwan Perera 6 - 1 – 24-0, Lakshan Sandakan  5 - 1 - 5 - 0 , Rangana Herath 3 - 0 - 8 - 0

 

Day One Report

Sri Lanka would be going into day two the happier of the two sides after they made 227-4 against Pakistan on day one of their first Test at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan had predictably seemed on top after the first session, claiming three wickets against a circumspect Sri Lankan batting line-up.

A slow but steady opening partnership was ended when Hasan Ali burst through the defense of right-handed Kaushal Silva with the score at 34.

Sri Lanka had been going at less than two-an-over at that point and were made to rue their defensive approach as they lost another wicket the over later. This time it was spin that did the damage, with leg-spinner Yasir Shah catching Lahiru Thirimanne in front of the wicket for a duck.

The wicket was also Yasir’s 150th in Test cricket, making him the quickest spinner to reach the mark — having done so in just his 27th five-day game.

Dimuth Karunaratne and the dangerous Kusal Mendis steadied the ship a bit but Yasir was at it again and had Mendis caught behind on the stroke of lunch.

A seemingly innocuous looking delivery came in with the angle to the right-hander but then straightened enough with the turn to get the edge of Mendis’s bat. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is prone to the occasional error behind the stumps but managed to grab onto the sharp chance despite fumbling it a bit to begin with.

Going into lunch, Sri Lanka were reeling at 61-3.

Pakistan though were guilty of removing their foot off the peddle a bit after lunch and Sri Lanka took full advantage of the lull in intensity from the hosts

Karunaratne and skipper Dinesh Chandimal started the consolidation process. The runs came just as slowly as they did in the first session but this time around the two ensured there would be no quick flurry of wickets that overturned all the hard work done before.

A 100-run stand meant the next two sessions belonged to the visitors but Karunaratne was incredibly unlucky in being unable to complete his century

The opener played the ball wide of mid-on and set off for a run which was there for the taking. Strike partner Chandimal though was caught ball-watching and didn’t leave his crease. With both players at one end, Sarfraz had all the time in the world to gather the ball and smash the stumps to send Karunaratne back just seven runs short of his century.

Chandimal, though, refused to let that momentary lapse of reason get the better of him and forged another impressive partnership, this time around with decidedly more aggressive Niroshan Dickwella.

The skipper did survive an LBW decision going against him on review — DRS showing the ball was to miss the off stump, but it was generally steady stuff from the two.

Sri Lanka 1st innings      

Dimuth Karunaratne   run out (Abbas, S. Ahmed) 93 

Kaushal Silva                    b H. Ali                  12 

Lahiru Thirimanne                lbw b Shah                0  

Kusal Mendis                     c S. Ahmed b Shah         10 

Dinesh Chandimal                 not out                   60 

Niroshan Dickwella               not out                   42 

Extras                           (lb-8 nb-2)               10 

Total                            (for 4 wickets, 90 overs) 227

Fall of wickets: 1-34 K. Silva,2-35 L. Thirimanne,3-61 K. Mendis,4-161 D. Karunaratne

To bat: D. Perera, R. Herath, S. Lakmal, L. Sandakan, N. Pradeep

Bowling:  Mohammad Amir 17 - 3 - 39 - 0 , Mohammad Abbas 16 - 0 - 43 - 0(nb-1), Yasir Shah 34 - 8 - 59 – 2, Hasan Ali 17 - 4 - 58 - 1(nb-1), Shan Masood 1 - 1 - 0 – 0, Haris Sohail  4 - 0 - 14 – 0, Asad Shafiq  1 - 0 - 6 - 0

 

Sri Lankan opener Dimuth Karunaratne led his team's recovery with a solid half-century on the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The left-hander was unbeaten on a sedate 81 with skipper Dinesh Chandimal on 32 not out as the pair added 82 for an unbroken fourth-wicket stand after Sri Lanka were struggling at 61-3.

Pakistan had the advantage in the first session with leg-spinner Yasir Shah taking 2-38, dismissing left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne for his 150th Test wicket.

Shah matched fellow countryman Waqar Younis as the joint second fastest to 150 wickets -- both achieving the milestone in their 27th Test.

Australia's Sydney Barnes holds the record after reaching the landmark in just 24 Tests.

Karunaratne had a solid opening stand of 34 with Kaushal Silva before paceman Hasan Ali provided Pakistan with the breakthrough.

Hasan bowled Silva for 12 as the batsman played on to an inswinging delivery.

Shah then had Thirimanne trapped leg before for a duck and Kusal Mendis caught behind for 10 to leave Sri Lanka in a spot of bother.

The Test is Pakistan's first since the retirement oflegendary batsman Younis Khan and their most successful Test skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq.

Pakistan handed a Test cap to batsman Haris Sohail, while Sri Lanka went into the game with three spinners and two seamers.

 

Pakistan XI: Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (c/wk), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali
 

Sri Lanka XI: Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep

Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are in the process of rebuilding their Test sides. As Pakistan aims to move on after Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq quit the game, Sri Lanka, which has been in an extended period of transition, has to recover from a cruel one-sided thrashing at home against India.

The repair work starts for the two teams when they enter the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi for the first of two Tests starting on Thursday (September 28).

Pakistan’s weaker link has been its batting, and without the run-scoring prowess of Younis – 10,099 runs in 118 Tests – and the calming influence of Misbah, it will be hard pressed.

With a new opening pair in Sami Aslam (11 Tests) and Shan Masood (10 Tests), the heavy load of putting up decent totals will fall on Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed, the new captain.

Sarfraz has established himself to an extent as a limited-overs captain, bagging the Champions Trophy 2017 title with an impressive bunch of youngsters, but the five-day format will be more demanding – a fact he accepted in the lead-up to the first Test.

Sarfraz promised that his players would implement what they learnt from the two greats.

"Obviously, their contributions were immense, but we have to move on," said Sarfraz. "We will do our best to implement what we have learnt from them in the past several years.

"It's not a distraction but we realise the responsibility and all the players are very excited to enter this new phase in our Test cricket," said Sarfraz, confirming that Azhar would drop down to No. 3 after performing the role of a makeshift opener since the tour of England last year.

 Sri Lanka will welcome back Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal but Mathews' absence with a calf injury has left it to rework its bowling options. Sri Lanka will welcome back Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal but Mathews' absence with a calf injury has left it to rework its bowling options.

Asad Shafiq will come in at No. 4 followed by Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, whose selection came under severe criticism as he has not played any first-class game for three years.

But Pakistan has the wherewithal to counter Sri Lanka’s pace and spin at venues where it has not lost a single series in nine attempts. At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, it is even more invincible, having never lost at this venue in nine Tests. It has won five and drawn the rest.

"A lot changes in teams with the passage of time, our team has also changed but victory in the Champions trophy has given us confidence and that energy level will help here as well," said Sarfraz.

Pakistan was sweating on the fitness of Azhar, who topped Younis and Misbah with 1198 runs in 11 Tests last year – with a triple century in the day-night Test in Dubai against Windies and a double-century in Melbourne against a formidable Australian attack. Azhar has a knee injury and might need pain-killing injections to last the Sri Lanka series.

Pakistan is likely to enter with three seamers in Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and ever-lively Hasan Ali with Yasir Shah as its main spinner on a pitch which is likely to lose some of its grass on match day. Haris will offer a part-time spin option as a left-armer.

Sri Lanka must also hope for a better show from its batsmen to improve on its dismal show against India. Dimuth Karunaratne (285 in three Tests) was its best performer against India. And Karunaratne would be relieved to see Kaushal Silva back alongside him at the top of the order after missing the India matches.

Dinesh Chandimal. Kusal Mendis and Lahiru Thirimanne will form the middle order, but Sri Lanka is going to be without Angelo Mathews, who is nursing a calf injury.

Chandimal, too, felt the absence of Younis and Misbah would hurt Pakistan but did not feel it made Sri Lanka favourites. “Younis and Misbah were batsmen I looked up to as a youngster,” said Chandimal. “There was this match in Pallekele (July 2015) where we declared early thinking that we had enough, but we were proved wrong by the duo, especially Younis. It was a massive target but Pakistan got there with Younis scoring a big hundred (171 not out), so they had their value.

Rangana Herath, the highest wicket-taker for the Islanders in the longer format with 389 scalps, will hold the key. Rangana Herath, the highest wicket-taker for the Islanders in the longer format with 389 scalps, will hold the key.

“Younis and Misbah were great players, so they not being in the team can help us," said Chandimal. "But we need to step up our own performances.

"As a team our performances in the last few series were below par but as a team we have learnt especially in fielding so we need to win one game and then I hope things will fall in right place."

 

Yasir Shah v Rangana Herath

On the dusty and slow pitches of the United Arab Emirates, spin will rule the roost, with Pakistan relying heavily on Yasir Shah and Sri Lanka on Rangana Herath.

Pakistan selected Yasir after the legspinner managed to pass a fitness test and he will be the main bowling weapon for it as he was in the last series in Sri Lanka, taking 24 wickets in the 2-1 win two years ago.

Herath, too, has had success against Pakistan, with 90 wickets in 19 Tests. He mesmerised Pakistan with 23 wickets – a world record for a two-Test series in Sri Lanka’s 2-0 home win in 2014. But like India, Pakistan also blunted the veteran left-arm spinner on the 2015 tour, conceding just two wickets to him in two Tests.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will welcome back Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal but Mathews' absence with a calf injury has left it to rework its bowling options.

Rangana Herath, the highest wicket-taker for the Islanders in the longer format with 389 scalps, will hold the key.

"He has done really well in the last seven eight years but we also have (Lakshan) Sandakan as a talented spinner, so we have options with us," said Chandimal.

The second Test -- a day-night affair -- will be played in Dubai from October 6.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath, Lakshan Sandakan, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Gamage Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG) and Nigel Llong (ENG) Tv umpire: Richard Kettleborough (ENG)

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