The Test squad of the Sri Lankan cricket team has arrived at Islamabad International Airport on Monday morning ahead of a two match Test series between the national teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The arrival holds immense importance as it signals the return of the longer format of the game in Pakistan after a gap of more than ten years. The first Test of the series will start in Rawalpindi from Wednesday.
International cricket of the five-day Test format has been absent from Pakistan since an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in Lahore back in 2009 that resulted in injuries to several touring players.
The Test series starts from December 11, with the first Test to be played in Rawalpindi and the second to be played in Karachi from December 19. Sri Lanka also played a limited-overs series in Pakistan earlier this year.
The tour of the Sri Lankan team highlights the impeccable safety and security measures adopted by Pakistan for visiting teams in light of concerns about the country being safe for sporting activities.
Back in 2015, Zimbabwe had become the first ICC nation to tour Pakistan after the 2009 attack, playing One-Day and T20 internationals in Lahore. Several limited-over international series have been held in the country since then.
Sri Lanka played three ODIs and three T20 matches in September and October in Pakistan this year, though 10 key players opted out of that trip citing security concerns. The Test squad that arrived on Monday, though, is full-strength.
- Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, and Lakshan Sandakan. Substitute player from the end Test: Asitha Fernando.
- Pakistan: Azhar Ali (captain), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket keeper), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, and Usman Shinwari.