All eyes on Rawalpindi for historic return of Test cricket to Pakistan
December 10, 2019
RAWALPINDI – Sri Lanka's return to Pakistan, 10 years after an attack on their team bus, carries significance beyond the results of the two-Test series. Another 120 points in the ICC Test Championship are on offer for Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These are points Pakistan can urgently use, following Australia's series sweep over them in November-December. Sri Lanka ended up sharing points during the home series against New Zealand. But, in the run-up to the series, the excitement has been less about the on-field contest and more about the larger significance of Test cricket returning to Pakistan. The visitors arrived to a warm welcome and high security in Pakistan, and have the gratitude of fans for making the trip. A near full-strength squad agreed to feature in the series. Bandula Warnapura and Javed Miandad, who captained Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their first-ever Test, have been invited as special guests. Pakistan have brought back Fawad Alam, the top-order batsman who has been in fine domestic form, after a gap of 10 years from the national side. Usman Shinwari also has been included, with Iftikhar Ahmed and Musa Khan left out from the side that suffered two innings defeats in Australia. The visitors will be without Suranga Lakmal, who has contracted dengue and will miss the series. He has been replaced by Asitha Fernando. The Tests will also mark the return of Mickey Arthur, Pakistan's coach until a few months ago – this time in his new role as Sri Lanka coach, following his appointment earlier this month.