Second Test preview: Sri Lanka v Pakistan

A 17-year Test career will come to an end in Colombo this weekend, in the place where it started, as batsman Mahela Jayawardene retires his boots in the city where he made his debut, in 1997.

A 17-year Test career will come to an end in Colombo this weekend, in the place where it started, as batsman Mahela Jayawardene retires his boots in the city where he made his debut, in 1997.

The Sri Lanka veteran of 148 Tests plays his final match in whites this week, against Pakistan, with his team leading the series one nil after their victory in Galle. He will leave the game averaging over 50.

As with Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis retirements in the recent past, this will be an emotional moment for fans of the game, not just Sri Lankans, as one of the more charismatic players exits stage left.

While everyone will be hoping he ends his career with a 35th Test century, eyes will also be on his best mate and partner in crime, Kumar Sangakkara. One of the best batting pairings in Test history, and one of the prettiest to watch, Sanga's retirement cannot be too far behind, despite his impressive form.

Sri Lanka's batting order could see a change at the top if Dimuth Karunaratne replaces Upul Tharanga, who has not made the most of his recent chances. But otherwise, it's the bowling attack that will need more attention.

The hosts are without their two premier pacemen as Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep are out injured, while Shaminda Eranga is also a big doubt. As such, they will probably go with just two pacemen, likely Dhammika Prasad and Chanaka Welegedera, though uncapped teenager Binura Fernando, at nearly seven foot tall, could get a call.

The spinners will be the key though, as this track was played on recently against South Africa and batting was difficult after day two already. Rangana Herath took six wickets in the second Pakistan innings in Galle, and he will be ably backed up by Dilruwan Perera.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will need a quick turn around in fortunes. They went into Galle not having played a Test in six months and were thus very rusty, but fans will not be as forgiving this time if their top order fails twice again.

If not for Younis Khan, and some cameos by the lower order, Pakistan would have crumbled in Galle in the first innings, and they will be horrified that they could not salvage a draw after much of the game was taken up by two long innings.

Pakistan will also keep an eye on spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has been reported to the ICC for a suspect bowling action. While not the first time this has happened to the world's premier spinner, he will still have to be tested within 21 days.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, Kumar Sangakkara is the man in form. He scored a double ton in Galle, batting for nearly 12 hours, and has said he doesn't find it particularly difficult to face Ajmal. Will he eat his words?

Pakistan, on the other hand, will need Ajmal to prove Sanga wrong, and take a five-fer like he did in the first Test. While he is allowed to bowl without restriction, it will be interesting to see whether he holds back on some variations.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2014, First Test: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets in Galle<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

<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, Dimuth Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Lahiru Gamage

<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> 14-18 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 Richard Illingworth<br><b>Third umpire:</b> Bruce Oxenford<br><b>Match referee:</b> Andy Pycroft