Galle, Jun 21: Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez will become the 30th player to captain Pakistan in test cricket when the opening match against Sri Lanka starts Friday.
He replaces Misbah-ul-Haq, who is suspended because of Pakistan's slow over rate in the fifth and final one-day international between the two teams last Monday. Sri Lanka won that match to win 3-1 in the series.
Hafeez has led Pakistan in two Twenty20 games on tour and he is hoping Pakistan's recent excellent record in test cricket will continue. Pakistan has won its past four series, including a 3-0 sweep against England, the world's top-ranked test team.
“The last one and a half years this team has done a great job,” Hafeez said Thursday.
“Our performance in that period has been great and I don't think I have to do anything special for this team.
“If you remember, we had an excellent series against England and that confidence will definitely help us.”
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, hasn't won a test series since star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan retired in 2010. It has since played seven series, losing four and drawing three.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, however, feels that winning the ODI series has given his side confidence.
“It is a big psychological advantage and, with what they have achieved in the last six months, it makes a big difference,” he said. “Every game is important and test cricket is a different format and we need to start well in the series.”
Rangana Herath returns to the Sri Lanka side after being withdrawn from the ODI squad as a precaution, and big things are expected of the left-arm spinner.
Herath spun Sri Lanka to a famous victory the last time it played Pakistan in Galle three years ago. He took 4-15 in the second innings to win the man-of-the-match award after only arriving in the country from England a day before the match as a replacement for the injured Muralitharan.
“Rangana wasn't injured. It's just that because he went through an operation two and half months back we wanted to make sure that he plays fewer games and take some rest before the test matches,” Jayawardene said. “He is our most senior bowler and bears the workload of our attack.”
The second test will be played at Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo. The third test is at Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Tharanga Parnavithana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chanaka Welagedara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis.
Pakistan (from): Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Afaq Raheem, Mohammad Ayub, Aizaz Cheema.