By BV Swagath
The opening Test Match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan begins tomorrow at the Galle International Stadium. Pakistan going into this match have already suffered a huge setback losing their Skipper and also one of the main batsman in Misbah-ul-Haq. The visitors will be led by Mohammad Hafeez which will be the first instance in his Test Career.
The Galle pitch has been known to be friendly to the bowlers in the past. Both seamers and spinners have enjoyed success here while the batsmen certainly had a tough time in the past. It will be interesting to see what kind of pitch will be on offer for this opening Test. One thing is certain that batsmen from both the teams had struggled in the 5-ODI Series.
There is no doubt that both the sides are equally good. Sri Lanka will start off as the favourites with batting stars like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera. There is no firepower in the Lankan pace attack but Nuwan Kulasekara is expected to do well if the conditions suit his kind of seam bowling. Rangana Herath will hold the key for Sri Lanka’s success in the Test Series with support expected to come from offie Suraj Randiv.
Pakistan on the other hand have Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul as two match-winners with the ball. Their batting does look brittle and without Misbah will be further weakened. Younis Khan, who struggled in the ODIs has to somehow got to come good and score big to hold the Pakistani batting together.
As far as the weather goes, it is of some concern with rain forecasted for each of the five days of the Test Match!
Match Timings: 04:30 GMT/10:00 local/10:00 IST
Sri Lanka Squad: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Angelo Mathews (Vice Captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Parnavithana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene (Wicket Keeper), Chanaka Welagedara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis
Pakistan Squad: Mohammad Hafeez (Captain), Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal (Wicket Keeper), Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Afaq Raheem, Mohammad Ayub, Aizaz Cheema