Toss Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to hit Pakistan
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to hit in Galle, on a pitch expected to be good for batting for the first two days. However, teams that batted first have lost the last three games at this location.
Batter Fawad Alam and left-hand spinner Nauman Ali have come to Pakistan’s XI, displacing Azhar Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Shaheen’s absence is due to a knee injury, but Pakistan has seized the opportunity to bolster their spin attack, going in with three frontline spinners – Yasir Shah and Mohammad Nawaz being the others – and two swifts in Naseem Shah and Hasan Ali, in this match.
Azhar, meanwhile, has been dropped after double failures in the previous test. Fawad, who had had a modest run against Australia itself, came in as a result.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has handed a debut to 19-year-old all-rounder Dunith Wellalage with left arms and spin bowling, who played for his Colombo school just last week. Wellalage impressed during the Australian ODIs last month, becoming the best wicket taker for the series. However, he has only played 11 first-class matches. He takes Maheesh Theekshana’s place in the frontline spin attack alongside Prabath Jayasuriya and Ramesh Mendis, with Dhananjaya de Silva the fourth option.
Another change in Sri Lanka was the return of sailor Asitha Fernando, who replaced Kasun Rajitha. The Sri Lankan offense of 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 batted 35 and 64 in the final game.
Angelo Mathews, meanwhile, is playing his 100th Test, receiving 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