First Test preview: Sri Lanka v Pakistan

For the second time in seven months, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are playing a Test series, this time in Sri Lanka and not the UAE, with the visitors out of the five-day format since the conclusion of that series.

For the second time in seven months, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are playing a Test series, this time in Sri Lanka and not the UAE, with the visitors out of the five-day format since the conclusion of that series.

Pakistan last won a Test series in Sri Lanka in 2006, and have not won a match in the island nation since. Their most recent series there, in 2012, saw the hosts win the three-match series one-nil, and that defeat was in Galle.

As far as each team goes, this year has seen Pakistan play only three Tests, all the way back in January, against Sri Lanka in the UAE. The series was drawn at one all. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have played nine Tests, winning three and drawing four.

They come into the series on the back of a series defeat to South Africa, on home soil, including a 153-run defeat in Galle. They'd been on a high before that though, having beaten England in the UK, so fortunes have been mixed.

This will be veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene's final Test series before retirement, and thus his final game in Galle. Last time out, he made only 13 runs against the Proteas, but was in cracking form in the next Test, so the fans will hope for some vintage Mahela by which to remember him.

As for the team's composition, they will be without fast bowler Suranga Lakmal as he has not recovered from injury, but are hopeful of including talented paceman Shaminda Eranga as he is on the brink of being declared fit. Nuwan Pradeep is also back after injury.

Spin-wise, Ajantha Mendis failed to make an impact against SA and was dropped, leaving the spin duties to Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera, both of whom did well against the Proteas, though will have been gutted to fall short of a win in the second Test on a track that spun like a top.

The wicketkeeping gloves will be retained by Niroshan Dickwella, who made his debut against the Proteas and did rather well, aside from being fined for a claimed bounced catch. Dinesh Chandimal was dropped from the squad entirely.

As for Pakistan, they have recalled wicketkeeper Umar Akmal after three years in the Test wilderness, though he is set to be back up for Sarfraz Ahmed, though could play as a pure batsman.

On the bowling front, Pakistan are still without Mohammad Irfan as he has not recovered from his hip injury, while Mohammad Hafeez was dropped and thus the attacking spin duties will fall to Saeed Ajmal, obviously.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, they will look to skipper <b>Angelo Mathews</b>, who has been on astonishingly good run of form with the bat this year, averaging over 60. He has been widely praised for his tactics too, showing attacking intent.

Pakistan will need spin King Saeed Ajmal to come to the party in a big way, especially in this Test as they don't have a Dale Steyn to take wickets with sheer pace. The deck is usually not helpful to quicker bowlers, especially on the last two days.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2014, Third Test: Pakistan win by five wickets in Sharjah<br>2014, Second Test: Sri Lanka won by nine wickets in Dubai<br>2014, First Test: Match drawn in Abu Dhabi<br>2012, Third Test: Match drawn in Pallekele<br>2012, Second Test: Match drawn in Colombo

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Sri Lanka:</i> Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thrimanne (vice-capt), Kaushal Silva, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Shaminda Eranga, Chanaka Welegedara, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep

<i>Pakistan:</i> Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz

<b>Dates:</b> 6-10 August<br><b>Morning session:</b> 10:00-12:00 (04:30-06:30 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 12:40-14:40 (07:10-09:10 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 15:00-17:00 (09:30-11:30 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Ian Gould and Bruce Oxenford<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Richard Illingworth<br><b>Match referee:</b> Andy Pycroft