Pakistan's likely XI against Sri Lanka for first Test

The first Test will start tomorrow in Galle

July 15, 2023
Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan during Pakistan's last Test against New Zealand in Karachi earlier this year - PCB

Pakistan are all set to take on Sri Lanka in the first Test of two-match series in Galle, starting tomorrow. 

Babar Azam and his team practiced hard at the Galle Cricket Stadium today before they take on the Island side in their first match of the ICC World Test Championship's third cycle. 

Before the training session, Babar and Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne unveiled the series trophy and held a press conference. 

In the pre-series presser, Babar showed confidence in his team players and said he is looking forward to a successful start in the championship cycle. 

Last year, Pakistan played two Tests in Sri Lanka. They won the first Test by four wickets whereas lost the second by 246 runs. National team's premium pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who got injured during the last series in Sri Lanka, will be making his Test return at the same venue.

As far as Pakistan's playing XI is concerned, they are expected to make two changes from the last team that played a Test against New Zealand in Karachi. Shaheen and Nauman Ali are expected to replace Hassan Ali and Mir Hamza. 

Sarfaraz Ahmed, who scored a match-saving century in the last Test against New Zealand, is likely to be retained as the wicketkeeper in the playing XI. Rizwan, despite being named as the vice-captain, is most likely to sit out during the first game. 

Pakistan's likely XI

Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood, Babar Azam (c), Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Agha Salman, Nauman Ali, Abrar Ahmed, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Babar Azam opens up ahead of first Sri Lanka Test

Babar Azam, ranked number three in Test cricket, has stated that the team is taking one step at a time. He also praised the mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed who took 11 wickets in his Test debut against England at Multan in 2022.

“Really excited to be back in red-ball format and all eyes are on the Galle Test as we are prepared and ready for the challenge,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said, adding: “We are taking one step at a time, but we have to be consistent across all formats.

“One of the positives going into the Galle Test is 13 of our players were here 12 months ago. Abrar Ahmed has identified himself as a good option in our combination. I am sure this tour will be a good learning curve for him as we have high hopes from him in this and future series.”