South Africa will want to avoid being on the wrong end of a series sweep as they aim to end a barren run in Asia when they go up against Pakistan in the second Test. 

Having suffered a seven-wicket defeat in Rawalpindi, the Proteas are now winless in their previous 13 Tests on the subcontinent, a dismal run of form that followed a 153-run victory over Sri Lanka in Galle in July 2014. 

The tourists were undone by Pakistan's spin pairing of Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali in the first game, with the duo taking 14 of the 20 South Africa wickets to fall at the National Stadium. 

However, the venue for the second Test could offer a little more help to the quicker bowlers, a welcome boost for struggling South Africa as they bid to draw level. 

Their plans for the first Test were hampered by the late withdrawal of Tabraiz Shamsi, who suffered a back issue in the warm-up and had to be replaced by paceman Lungi Ngidi.  

Shamsi has recovered in time to be considered for selection, while opening batsman Dean Elgar is also fit to play after a taking a nasty blow to the hand while batting in his team's second innings. 

South Africa fought hard in the face of a hefty first-innings deficit but were left with too much to do after only making 220 on day one. Amid the frustration, all the top seven in the order reached double figures but failed to build on it, their cause not helped by both Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma getting run out. 

As for the hosts, their line-up may well depend on the pitch. Considering the balance of the side worked so well last time out, it could be they go with the same XI again. 

The top order did struggle but Fawad Alam's century and a wagging tail helped rescue their first innings, having at one stage slumped to 27-4 late on day one. Babar Azam had a quiet debut in his role as Test captain in terms of his output with the bat, managing 37 runs in his two knocks.

CAPTAINCY SWANSONG FOR DE KOCK? 

It appears Quinton de Kock is set for his final Test in charge of the Proteas – for now at least. The wicketkeeper-batsman may have been set to continue in the role for the Tests against Australia on home soil, but that series has been postponed. Instead, the break will allow De Kock to get some well-earned rest and team management to assess their options. 

"When we get back after this tour we've got a bit of time before our next series so we can sit down and make a good, solid call on who can take over from him and release him from that burden and try and get the best out of him," South Africa coach Mark Boucher said on the eve of the game. 

 
SPINNERS IN SIGHT FOR YASIR 

Yasir played a pivotal role in the opener, finishing with match figures of 7-133. His haul in Karachi takes his career tally in Tests to 234 wickets, meaning he is just three shy of fifth place on the all-time list for Pakistan.  

The great Abdul Qadir currently occupies the spot, while another leg-spinner in Danish Kaneria sits third on 261. However, there is some way to go to catch the bowler on top; Wasim Akram finished his career with 414 wickets at a ridiculously impressive average of 23.62.  


KEY MATCH FACTS

- South Africa will be looking to avoid a fourth consecutive multi-game Test series loss away from home; it would be the first time the Proteas have lost as many such series in succession since losing each of their first seven in the format (July 1907 – February 1932).

- Pakistan won their most recent Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium by an innings and 44 runs (against Bangladesh, February 2020). They will be aiming to secure back-to-back triumphs at the venue for the first time.

- Babar Azam has scored a century in each of his previous two Test innings in Rawalpindi; no player has more at the venue in the format (Saeed Anwar and Michael Slater also have two).

- Pakistan have dropped 13 catches in Tests so far this year, the most by any side and one of only two in double figures (India – 10).

- Kagiso Rabada has a bowling strike rate of 41.1 in Test cricket, the best by any player to take at least 150 wickets in the format.

- Faheem Ashraf finished with the best dot ball percentage (89.3 per cent) of any bowler in the first Test, though it was the first time he has failed to claim a wicket.

Jofra Archer insists his scintillating Indian Premier League form will count for nothing when England take on India in this week's first Test. 

Fast bowler Archer has taken 46 wickets across three seasons in the IPL, the first two of which took place in India. 

During the 2020 edition, which was moved to the United Arab Emirates due to the coronavirus pandemic, he claimed 20 at an average of 18.25. 

Despite showing he can thrive in conditions that are traditionally unforgiving for pacemen, Archer insists moving from Twenty20 cricket to the longest format presents an entirely different challenge for his considerable skills. 

"It's a different ball. I've never played red ball over here," he said. 

"White ball is a whole different dynamic, so you can't really compare the two."

Archer is back in the England fold after being rested for the 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka. 

Spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach lead the way with 12 and 10 wickets respectively for the tourists and Archer is not averse to putting in the hard yards in India if it means the slower bowlers getting the glory. 

"It doesn't really matter - whatever's for the team, whatever's going to contribute to the win," he said. "If it means me and the other seamers have got to do the hard work then so be it. 

"We've already had a bowling meeting. We'll probably have one more before the game when we see the wicket we're going to have. 

"Then we'll come up with a plan and stick to it wholeheartedly. 

"Everyone [in the India line-up] is good at home, it doesn’t matter who. From one to six they can score hundreds."

Friday's first Test in Chennai will be captain Joe Root's 100th for England.

Back-to-back centuries in Sri Lanka means Root approaches the landmark in imperious form and Archer believes his skipper still has plenty left in the tank.

"He's really reassuring. Not just for me but for every single person in the team," he said.

"He's a great man manager, a great person as well.

"I'm not surprised that he's played 100 Tests. He's probably got another 70 left in him.

"This is definitely not the end, not near the end."

Graeme Smith has admitted Cricket South Africa (CSA) was left "extremely disappointed" with the decision taken by Australia to pull out of their upcoming tour.

A three-Test series was scheduled to take place in March, but Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Tuesday that those plans had been shelved due to the public health situation in South Africa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The country was dealing with over 10,000 positive COVID-19 cases a day at the start of January and while that number has since dropped considerably, there is also a new variant of the virus.

However, having done all possible to appease safety concerns and establish protocols so the tour could take place as planned, CSA director of cricket Smith revealed the frustration at the late cancellation.

"We are extremely disappointed by the decision of CA," former Proteas captain Smith said. "CSA has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure that we meet every single expectation of CA.

"This was set to be the longest tour in a BSE (bio-secure environment) comprising a three-match Test series that was scheduled to begin with Australia's arrival later in the month. So to be informed about the CA decision at the eleventh hour is frustrating."

Dr Shuaib Manjra, chief medical officer for CSA, explained how the organisation had done everything possible during the planning stage, including proposing protocols to their Australian counterparts that were "unprecedented".

The cancellation has ramifications for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, too. New Zealand are now certain to be playing in the final later this year, where they will go up against either England, India or Australia.

Pholetsi Moseki, acting CEO for CSA, said: "It is indeed sad that after all the engagements and effort made to ensure a secure visit by our Australian counterparts, the tour has been derailed.

"CSA has incurred significant costs related to the planning stages and the cancellation of the tour represents a serious financial loss."

South Africa are currently on tour in Pakistan, with the second of two Tests set to start on Thursday in Rawalpindi.

They will also play a three-match Twenty20 series against their hosts - with all the white-ball fixtures to be staged in Lahore - before returning home in the middle of February.

Australia's forthcoming tour of South Africa has been called off due to health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A three-Test tour was scheduled to take place in March, but Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Tuesday that the plans had been shelved.

South Africa has been contending with a spike in cases in January and a new variant of COVID-19.

CA interim CEO Nick Hockley said: "Due to the public health situation in South Africa, which includes a second wave and a new variant of the virus, and following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community.

"We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA [Cricket South Africa] in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.

"This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.

"However, we have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that the health and safety of our people is always our number one priority and unfortunately despite best efforts to agree to a biosecurity plan, the risks are simply too great at this time.

"As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for Justin [Langer], Tim [Paine] and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can't be compromised.

"We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course and we send CSA and the people of South Africa our very best wishes for a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a return to normality soon."

England travelled to South Africa for a limited-overs series in November and December but the three one-day matches were abandoned after positive coronavirus tests in both camps.

Nauman Ali claimed a maiden five-wicket haul to help Pakistan win the first Test against South Africa in Karachi, despite an early wobble in their run chase.

Having bowled out the Proteas for 245 in the first session on day four, the hosts lost openers Abid Ali and Imran Butt to slip to 23-2 when needing 88.

However, captain Babar Azam made 30 and despite his departure on the brink of victory, trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj, first-innings centurion Fawad Alam hit the winning boundary to seal a seven-wicket triumph. Azhar Ali, meanwhile, finished up unbeaten on 31.

South Africa have now lost eight successive Tests overseas. They had resumed on 187-4 but managed to add just a further 58 runs for the loss of their final six wickets, debutant Nauman taking four of them as he finished with 5-35 from 25.3 overs.

Nightwatchman Maharaj was dismissed by the first ball of the day, bowled by one that kept a little low from paceman Hasan Ali.

Proteas captain Quinton de Kock then fell to Yasir Shah for two, giving the leg spinner a fourth wicket of the innings.

From then on, though, Nauman took charge. He worked his way through the tail and while Temba Bavuma battled hard, the batsman was last man out when trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner for 40.

Anrich Nortje gave the tourists a glimmer of hope when he dismissed both opening batsmen straight after the lunch break, but South Africa will rue a late clatter of wickets on day three having battled so hard with the bat to wipe out a first-innings deficit of 168.

 

Nauman makes an immediate impact

At 34 years and 111 days, Nauman was the fourth oldest debutant for Pakistan in the format. The wait proved worthwhile, though, as he finished with impressive match figures of 7-73.

While Yasir claimed the key scalp of De Kock, it was his fellow slow bowler who made sure the home team were left with a manageable target on a tired pitch showing obvious signs of variable bounce.

Babar celebrates home comforts

Despite his late dismissal - falling for a second time in the game to the left-arm spin of Maharaj - Babar can reflect on a satisfying first outing as Test skipper, having missed the 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand due to injury.

As was the case against the Black Caps, the top order struggled for runs. However, Fawad's superb first-innings century helped lead a recovery and the result means Pakistan cannot lose the series now. The second and final match takes place in Rawalpindi, starting on February 4.

Kagiso Rabada put his impressive achievement of reaching 200 Test wickets down to hard work but insisted the "show goes on" after becoming the third fastest South African to reach the milestone.  

The Proteas paceman claimed 3-70 in Pakistan’s first innings during the series opener in Karachi, with the last of those wickets seeing him get to the notable personal landmark in his international career.  

Hasan Ali was bowled to see Rabada make it to 200 on day three of his 44th Test outing; only Dale Steyn (39) and Allan Donald (42) have managed it in fewer appearances for South Africa.  

He is also the third quickest ever when it comes to deliveries bowled – Waqar Younis and Steyn sit above him on that list – having recorded nine five-wicket hauls and taken 10 in a match on four occasions.  

For Rabada, there remains the appetite within to keep on improving, worrying words for opposing batsmen around the world when you consider he is still just 25. 

"It's just hard work and spending a lot of time on your craft, seeing where you can get better," Rabada told the media about his success in the Test arena. "Analysing it, but not over-thinking it.  

"It hasn't all been easy – you find yourself trying to perfect something that might seem so simple, but it's constant repetition, hours and hours of work, so being relentless with that and trying to see how much better you can get and finding ways."

Asked about being in the same company as compatriot Steyn and Pakistan great Waqar when it comes to balls bowled, Rabada replied: "It's a massive feat to be included in a list of such names.  

"When you start playing you don't ever think that you'd be on such a list and have such statistics. All you want to do is the best that you can. 

"I'm really glad, it's satisfying; it's a great milestone, but the show goes on."

Rabada missed the chance to bring up his 200th wicket on home soil as he did not feature in the recent series against Sri Lanka in South Africa, the Proteas understandably taking no risks with their premier strike bowler upon his return from a groin injury.

It meant his appearance against Pakistan was his first in the format since the third match of the series against England, back in January 2020. 

"Test cricket never gets old, never gets any easier as well – you are constantly challenged," Rabada explained upon his return to duty for his country

"Playing in Pakistan as well, it's quite an amazing place. The only place that I haven't played previously, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to play here.  

"It's been hard work, just like any Test match, especially in the subcontinent where you have to be more patient. It teaches you a lot of lessons and I've been reminded of some of them."

Fawad Alam made his third Test century as Pakistan took the upper hand on a frustrating day two for South Africa in Karachi.

Pakistan resumed on Wednesday in deep trouble on 33-4 in reply to the Proteas' 220 all out but recovered to 308-8 at stumps with an 88-run lead at the National Stadium.

Fawad made a superb 109, while Azhar Ali (51) and Faheem Ashraf (64) also played big hands as Babar Azam's side turned the tide following such a dramatic opening day of the two-match series.

Left-hander Fawad was dropped on 35 and 92 by Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock respectively before bringing up his hundred with a six off spinner Keshav Maharaj.

The Proteas failed to take a wicket in the first session, which ended with Pakistan on 104-4, but former captain Azhar was caught behind off Maharaj (2-71) to end a stand of 94 with Fawad after digging in for a 33rd half-century in the longest format.

Mohammad Rizwan (33) fell to Lungi Ngidi in the final over before tea to leave Pakistan 176-6, but Fawad and Faheem took Pakistan into the lead with a partnership of 102.

Ngidi (2-55) ended Fawad's brilliant 245-ball knock and Faheem played on to an Anrich Nortje (2-84) yorker, but it was very much Pakistan's day, with Maharaj denied a third wicket when he bowled Hasan Ali but over-stepped.

Fawad making up for lost time

Middle-order batsman Fawad has made up for lost time after being recalled to face England last August almost 11 years after his previous Test appearance.

The left-hander was rattled on the helmet by Kagiso Rabada and had some deserved fortune as he played superbly to put Pakistan in a strong position.

Fawad has gone on to reach three figures on all three occasions he has made a half-century. He struck two sixes and found the rope nine times before he was taken by Temba Bavuma at short midwicket to become Ngidi's second victim.

Rabada made to wait for landmark

Proteas paceman Rabada took two wickets in a devastating new-ball burst late on day one, but remains one shy of 200 Test scalps.

He bowled probing lines without reward and was economical, missing out on reaching the landmark when captain De Kock dropped Fawad in the 90s.

Australia national selector Trevor Hohns believes criticism of Tim Paine's leadership has been "totally unfair".

Paine came under fire during Australia's 2-1 Test series loss to India, with the skipper apologising for his behaviour during the Sydney Test.

Amid questions over the 36-year-old's future, Paine retained the captaincy as Australia's Test squad for their tour of South Africa was named on Wednesday.

Hohns said there was no doubt over the wicketkeeper's leadership, hitting out at what he feels has been unfair criticism.

"Tim's leadership in our mind was never in question. We did not spend one minute on Tim's leadership during our selection meeting," he told a news conference.

"He's been a terrific leader of this Australian team through some pretty trying circumstances since he's been in the top position. And I must say too, if you don't mind, some of the criticism he's had to endure in our view has been pretty wide of the mark, in particular some of it has been in poor taste from overseas people.

"I think the criticism of Tim Paine has been totally unfair."

Star Australia paceman Pat Cummins, 27, has been touted as a possible future captain.

Hohns said it was important for Australia to have options going forward.

"Of course, we're always looking for leaders and when the opportunity arises to possibly give somebody some experience," he said.

"Over the last week or two, there has been various names thrown up and let's face it, we've got to canvas all of those options and try to come up with a leader or a group of leaders, which is what we've tried to do over the last couple of years, who can take Australian cricket forward."

Matthew Wade has been dropped from Australia's Test squad for their tour of South Africa, but he will head to New Zealand for a Twenty20 series.

Wade, 33, came under fire for several poor dismissals as Australia suffered a 2-1 series loss to an injury-hit India.

He finished the series with 173 runs at an average of 21.6 and was left out of the squad set to face South Africa, although the tour is subject to a final sign-off.

In what is a similar squad to the one that went down to India, Alex Carey was included with Wade omitted, while Tim Paine remains captain despite criticism.

"The squad is quite similar to that selected for the final two Tests of the recently-completed Border-Gavaskar series, with the exception of Matt Wade, who will join the Australian men's T20I squad in New Zealand, and the addition of Alex Carey, who has been in strong form with both bat and gloves," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said.

"David Warner, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris all opened at different stages against India and should be well-suited to the conditions in South Africa. Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith were in good form during the Australian summer and Travis Head has an opportunity to reclaim the number five spot.

"We've been very impressed with Cameron Green's first foray into Test cricket as an all-rounder batting at number six and we have great depth with the in-form Moises Henriques also in the squad.

"Tim Paine was excellent at number seven against India and as a batsman, wicketkeeper and captain still has much to offer in the Test arena.

"Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson offer wonderful spin bowling options for South African conditions. Similarly, we like the skill, execution and variation offered by our pace corps of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee."

Wade was named in an 18-man T20 squad set to face New Zealand in five matches, beginning on February 22.

Australia Test squad for tour of South Africa: Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.

Australia T20 squad for tour of New Zealand: Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

Kagiso Rabada struck twice as Pakistan made a nightmare start to their reply after bowling South Africa out on a dramatic day one of the Test series in Karachi.

The Proteas, touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years, were dismissed for 220 after winning the toss at the National Stadium on Tuesday, Yasir Shah taking 3-54.

Dean Elgar (58) made a half-century but South Africa lost four wickets in the afternoon session and were all out not long after tea, debutant Nauman Ali and paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi finishing with two wickets apiece.

Rabada, playing his first Test for just over a year, then brought Pakistan back down to earth as he took 2-8 in six overs and they were in deep trouble on 33-4 at stumps.

Fit-again paceman Rabada removed Imran Butt for only nine on his debut and dismissed Abid Ali before Keshav Maharaj claimed the huge scalp of Babar Azam for just seven in his first innings as Test captain.

Anrich Nortje got in on the act by seeing the back of nightwatchman Afridi and Pakistan will resume on day two trailing by 187 runs.

The tourists had early been going along nicely on 63-1 until Rassie van der Dussen was run out by a combination of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan and they stumbled to 179-6 at tea, Elgar edging Nauman (2-38) to Babar at first slip after digging in for a valuable half-century.

George Linde chipped in with 35 before falling to the recalled Hasan Ali and Rabada made an unbeaten 21 before making a big impact with the ball as South Africa hit back late in the day to take the upper hand.

Proteas in a spin

Pakistan are without a win in five Tests and arrived home smarting from a 2-0 loss in New Zealand but made an encouraging start to this two-match series.

A brilliant slip catch from Butt off the bowling of Afridi accounted for Aiden Markram, but it was the spinners who did the bulk of the damage. Yasir got rid of Faf du Plessis, while Nauman – the fourth-oldest Test debutant for Pakistan aged 34 – claimed the scalps of skipper Quinton de Kock and Elgar as South Africa folded.

Rapid Rabada on brink of 200 club

Rabada came steaming in with the new ball to turn the tide, sending Abid Ali's off stump cartwheeling out of the ground before snaring Butt, who was caught at leg gully.

The paceman is now just one away from two 200 Test scalps and will come charging in again on day two with Pakistan in the mire after Maharaj trapped Babar in front and Afridi was bowled by Nortje for a duck.

Babar Azam will finally get the chance to lead Pakistan in Test cricket as a two-match series against South Africa begins in Karachi on Tuesday.  

Batsman Babar was appointed to the role last November, yet missed both Tests on the tour of New Zealand, as well as the Twenty20 series that followed, after suffering a fractured thumb during a practice session.  

Mohammad Rizwan took charge in the regular skipper’s absence, though he was unable to prevent Pakistan slipping to a 2-0 defeat against the Black Caps.  

The return of Babar on home soil is a boost, not least because he will bolster a batting line-up that struggled badly in New Zealand.  

Shan Masood has lost his place at the top of the order following a lack of runs, while the Pakistan selectors also left out Haris Sohail and Mohammad Abbas from an initial 20-man squad.  

Opener Imran Butt is set to make his Test debut at the National Stadium, a venue where the home team have lost only one of their last seven Tests, albeit that defeat did come against the Proteas, back in October 2007.  

Both Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah are missing due to injuries, while Abbas' absence from the bowling attack could lead to a recall for Hasan Ali.

As for South Africa, they have arrived fresh from a 2-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka. Quinton de Kock continues in charge, the wicketkeeper-batsman set to play in his 50th Test in the opener. 

The Proteas captain has Kagiso Rabada available again, bolstering a pace attack that performed so impressively against Sri Lanka without him. With Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla also vying to play, there are a wealth of options when it comes to seam bowling.

However, the balancing act for South Africa will come over whether to select two spinners. Tabraiz Shamsi is the likely option to come into the XI, joining forces with fellow slow bowler Keshav Maharaj. 
 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME 

His absence keenly felt in New Zealand, Babar will be determined to make up for lost time when he goes up against South Africa in his homeland. 

The stylish right-hander has scored 50 or more in each of his four Test innings in Pakistan, including three centuries. His batting average in the country (202.5) is the best by any player in Test history there. 
 

MILESTONES IN SIGHT FOR DE KOCK 

There is the potential for not one but two major milestones for De Kock, who had a relatively quiet series with the bat against Sri Lanka. 

The destructive left-hander is just 38 away from becoming the 16th player to score 3,000 Test runs for South Africa. He equalled his highest Test score (129) in his most recent innings against Pakistan two years ago, too. 


KEY MATCH FACTS

- South Africa have lost only one of their 10 multi-game Test series against Pakistan (W6, D3), that loss coming when they toured Pakistan in 2003 (1-0).

- Lutho Sipamla finished with a bowling strike-rate of 23.9 in the Proteas' most recent Test series (10 wickets against Sri Lanka), the best by any player. 

- Pakistan have lost only one of their last eight Test series on home soil (W5, D2), though that solitary setback came against South Africa (1-0 in October 2007).

- Mohammad Rizwan has scored 50+ in five of his previous six Test innings, having done so only once in his first 11 at the crease in the format.

- Faf du Plessis has faced Shaheen Afridi in three Test innings heading into this series, being dismissed by the Pakistan paceman on each occasion while scoring just 27 runs in response.

Joe Root felt England's calmness under pressure was the key to securing victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka – but insisted there is still room for improvement ahead of the tour to India. 

England trailed after both teams had batted once in Galle, yet four wickets apiece for spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach helped turn the game their way. 

Sri Lanka rather self-destructed with the bat – something Root revealed the tourists had hoped to bring about by "creating a bit of chaos" - and left their opponents needing just 164 to seal a 2-0 series sweep. 

Dom Sibley anchored the chase, scoring 56 not out having managed only six runs combined in his three previous knocks, while Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 46 to help complete a six-wicket triumph. 

"It was a fine performance in this game. To come out on top having lost the toss on a wicket that, for the majority of the game, we had the worst part of is a testament to the character of the boys," Root said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

"In that second innings, at the back end, it was about dealing with pressure. I thought a number of guys in a very difficult run chase showed a lot of maturity, calmness and poise to see us home. It's a brilliant way to finish the series.

"When we came to bowl, it was about creating a bit of chaos, making it difficult for Sir Lanka to score boundaries.

"We knew if we could build pressure and try and really squeeze the game, we'd create opportunities on that surface. Thankfully, that worked out for us."

He added: "The one thing I'm proud of within our group is how calm we were; how clear we were over how we were going to score runs on that wicket in that chase."

England have little time to bask in their latest success, however, as they head on to India for a four-Test series. For Root, the aim is to keep on progressing during what is a hectic 2021 schedule.

Still, they have won five successive Test matches overseas for the first time since 1914, while they will be boosted by the return of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes in India. Rory Burns is also available again; the opening batsman missed the Sri Lanka trip to be present for the birth of his first child.

"As a team, we are moving forward all the time. We are on a little bit of an upward curve and we've just got to keep on looking to get better," Root - who scored 426 runs in the series at an average of 106.5 - said.

"With four more Tests to come on this tour for us, it's really important we don't stand still. We are not happy with what we have achieved so far, we will keep looking to improve all the time. 

"There will be different challenges, different surfaces to deal with and situations to manage in the coming games, but can we have that same attitude, that same desire to want to improve all the time."

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday that New Zealand will visit in June, playing Root's side in Tests at Lord's and Edgbaston.

England will also play three Twenty20 fixtures and a trio of one-day games against Sri Lanka. 

England wrapped up an impressive six-wicket victory to complete a series sweep after a dramatic Sri Lanka collapse on day four of the second Test. 

Dom Sibley finished up unbeaten on 56 as he and Jos Buttler (46 not out) saw the tourists to a target of 164, the pair putting on a pivotal stand worth 75 after coming together with their team wobbling in the run chase. 

Lasith Embuldeniya claimed three of the wickets to fall as he finished with match figures of 10-210, but Sri Lanka were left to regret a shoddy batting display that saw them all out for 126 in 35.5 overs. 

England added just five runs in the morning before their first innings was wrapped up at 344, meaning Sri Lanka came out to bat again with a useful lead of 37 on a dry, turning pitch. 

However, Dom Bess and Jack Leach claimed four wickets apiece, aided by some questionable shot choices, as Sri Lanka lost the plot. They were reeling on 78-8 when debutant Ramesh Mendis was caught behind for 16 - the top score for the hosts at the time.

Embuldeniya made 40 - easily a career-best knock in all formats - thanks to six fours and a solitary six, while the more reserved Suranga Lakmal (11 not out) was happy to hang around. Eventually, Joe Root came on to claim the final two wickets in just 11 deliveries, leaving England chasing 164. 

The busy Embuldeniya was soon centre stage again as Sri Lanka chipped away to retain hope, Zak Crawley (13), Jonny Bairstow - who made 28 in a hurry - and Dan Lawrence (2) all falling to the left-arm spinner. 

Mendis claimed the prized wicket of Root, bowled off an inside edge trying to play a paddle sweep for 11, but Sibley and Buttler combined to calm any nerves, seeing their team over the finishing line with ease in the end. 

The victory means England have won five successive overseas Test matches for the first time since 1914 - they will hope to continue that run when they head to India next.

Agha Salman, Abdullah Shafique and Kamran Ghulam have been omitted from Pakistan's squad for the first Test against South Africa.

The trio were named in an initial squad of 20 for the opening Test in Karachi, which starts on Tuesday, but did not make the final cut.

With Shafique overlooked, Imran Butt looks set to be handed his debut his debut at the top of the order.

Pakistan were whitewashed 2-0 in their last Test series against New Zealand and are without a win in five matches in the longest format, but head coach Misbah-ul-Haq is optimistic they can turn the tide.

He said: "Understanding how poor we were in the field on our previous New Zealand tour, we have given fielding much importance while preparing [to play the Proteas].

"We are having extraordinary training sessions, with dedicated sessions to bring improvements. We are overall ready and looking forward to taking on South Africa."

Pakistan squad: Abid Ali , Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (captain), Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan.

Joe Root treated his England team-mates to an education in how to play spin bowling following his domination of the Sri Lanka attack, says Jos Buttler.

Captain Root backed up his 228 in the first Test victory with a monumental 186 in Galle on Sunday, falling cruelly to a run out from the final ball of the day.

Oshada Fernando's quick thinking at short leg meant England closed day three on 339-9 - a first-innings deficit of 42.

Despite that giving Sri Lanka a slight edge in their bid to secure a series-levelling win, attention afterwards understandably focused upon Root, who passed Geoffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to go fourth on England's all-time list of Test run scorers over the course of a fabulous knock.

"It was quite an amazing innings," Buttler said. "To back up his double hundred in the first Test, to show the mental and physical application to go again.

"It's been a masterclass in batting against spin. It's been a great education for all of us watching from the sidelines.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed watching him and we're gutted for him getting out in that fashion at the end of the day."

Buttler, who was the only other England batsman to pass 50, shared a 97-run stand with Root for the fifth wicket and also marvelled at his skipper's powers of endurance.

The 30-year-old Root motored on during the evening session despite cramps and back pain demonstrating the toll taken.

"For all eight days of the series so far he's been out on the field," Buttler said. "This game feels a lot hotter and lot more draining than the first game, [which had] rain breaks.

"We have to praise not only the tactical and technical aspect of his game, but the physicality and concentration to apply himself for so long.

"Once again, to back up the first Test is quite amazing really."

Lasith Embuldeniya carried the fight for Sri Lanka with superb figures of 7-132, but even the in-form slow left-armer could not escape punishment from Root, who swept with authority and even unfurled an audacious switch hit to fine effect.

"There were some quite amazing shots, really," added Buttler, who is consistently England's most innovative strokemaker across all formats. "It show the confidence and the skill level is amazing.

"He even played a little late cut left-handed. It's been great to watch. His skill level is second to none."

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