The Tests are scheduled to be played at Rawalpindi (December 11-15) and Karachi (December 19-23).
All 16 players picked have appeared in no less than two Tests. The least experienced of them Oshada Fernando with two Test appearances will become skipper Dimuth Karunaratne’s new Test opening partner during the series.
Fernando is being tried out as opener as all the others before him have failed to deliver consistently. Lahiru Thirimanne was the last to open the batting with Karunaratne, however his 12 innings as opener produced only one fifty. He however has been selected as the third opener.
Fernando, a one drop batsman caught the eye with a match-winning knock of 75 not out against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in February enabling Sri Lanka to become the first team from the subcontinent to win a Test series 2-0 in the rainbow nation.
Kusal Perera has been named as the reserve wicket-keeper to Niroshan Dickwella who retains his place as late middle-order batsman at number 7 thus giving strength to the batting that will have Kusal Mendis at 3, Angelo Mathews at 4, Dinesh Chandimal at 5 and Dhananjaya de Silva at 6.
Chandimal who has gone through a tough nine months since last being selected to play for his country in any format finally finds himself with a batting slot at five in the Test line-up. Chandimal last played for Sri Lanka in February this year against Australia in the Canberra Test.
Sri Lanka have named four fast bowlers with Suranga Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando making a head start over Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara. The same applies for the three spinners with experienced Dilruwan Perera expected to pair off with left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya. Lakshan Sandakan is the third spinner.
GRANT FLOWER APPROACHED AS BATTING COACH
The Lankan squad are currently at practice at the R Premadasa Stadium under the watchful eyes of interim head coach Rumesh Ratnayake and manager cum chief selector Ashantha de Mel.
They are expected to be joined by Mickey Arthur and Shane McDermott for the Pakistan tour in the first week of December as observers. Arthur is expected to take over as the new head coach and McDermott as the new fielding coach after the Pakistan series.
Meanwhile it is learnt that Sri Lanka Cricket are in talks with former Zimbabwe batsman Grant Flower to take the position as batting coach of the national team.
POWER HITTING COACH
SLC are also due to get down power hitting expert Julian Wood for a week to coach the Lankan batsmen. Wood, a former first-class batsman with Hampshire in the County Championship, has in recent years established himself in the niche coaching area of power hitting, having identified just how important the skill would become for batsmen in a sport increasingly leaning towards its shortest format.
Wood’s services were utilized by England working with their limited-over batsmen on and off which helped them to become World Cup champions in June this year. The Lankan team is due to leave for Pakistan on December 8.