Toss Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat against Pakistan
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat in Galle, on a pitch expected to be good for batting on the first two days. However, teams batting first have lost the last three matches at this venue.
Middle-order batter Fawad Alam and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali have come into Pakistan’s XI, displacing Azhar Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Shaheen’s absence is because of a knee injury, but Pakistan have taken the chance to strengthen their spin attack, going in with three frontline spinners – Yasir Shah and Mohammad Nawaz are the others – and two quicks in Naseem Shah and Hasan Ali, in this match.
Azhar, meanwhile, has been dropped following twin failures in the previous Test. Fawad, who had had a modest series against Australia himself, got in as a result.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have handed a debut to 19-year-old left-arm-spin-bowling allrounder Dunith Wellalage, who only last week was playing for his school in Colombo. Wellalage had impressed during the Australia ODIs last month, becoming the top wicket-taker for the series. He has only played 11 first-class matches, however. He takes Maheesh Theekshana’s place in the frontline spin attack alongside Prabath Jayasuriya and Ramesh Mendis, with Dhananjaya de Silva the fourth option.
Sri Lanka’s other change was the return of seamer Asitha Fernando, who replaced Kasun Rajitha. Sri Lanka’s attack from the first Test had failed to defend 342 in the fourth innings.
Although opener Pathum Nissanka has returned to the squad after recovering from Covid-19, he has lost his place to Oshada Fernando, who hit 35 and 64 in the last match.
Angelo Mathews, meanwhile, is playing his 100th Test, and received a cap to mark the occasion from Chaminda Vaas, the bowling coach.
Sri Lanka: 1 Oshada Fernando, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dinesh Chandimal, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Ramesh Mendis, 9 Dunith Wellalage, 10 Prabath Jayasuriya, 11 Asitha Fernando
Pakistan: 1 Abdullah Shafique, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Fawad Alam, 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 6 Agha Salman, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Nauman Ali, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Yasir Shah, 11 Naseem Shah
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf