Shan Masood is relishing playing on home turf as Pakistan prepare to host their first Test match in over a decade.

Pakistan welcome Sri Lanka to Rawalpindi on Thursday for the first of two Tests to round off 2019.

It is the first time a Test will be played in Pakistan since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in Lahore in early 2009, with six policemen and two civilians killed.

Pakistan head into the series on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Australia, but Masood believes a return home has buoyed the entire squad, with every player eager to perform at their best in what he says is a momentous moment for the country.

"If you look at the best players in Test cricket, their home records are superior to away records," batsman Masood said.

"You are more familiar with the atmosphere, the pitches, and enjoy crowd support, and that was one thing that was missing from Pakistan cricket.

"Bringing Test cricket here is our biggest accomplishment. Test cricket as a whole suffered around the world, and in Pakistan, we've dedicated more to white-ball cricket. This is an opportunity for children in Pakistan to have a proper look at Test cricket.

"They'll look at people like Azhar Ali, who scored a 300 and a double-century in Australia. They'll look at Asad Shafiq, who has scored hundreds all around the world.

"We've got exciting pacers like Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi. We've got Mohammad Abbas, who has been ranked number one in the world, and Yasir Shah, who has been the number one spinner in the world. Babar Azam is climbing up the Test rankings as well.

"This is a chance for our young generation to finally watch their heroes and it was unfortunate that legends like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan couldn't play in their home grounds in the peak of their careers.

"So I'm really excited, because I feel this will propel Pakistan as a generation and the future generations of this country to take up cricket. It's almost going to be like everyone is making their debuts, because we're all playing in Pakistan for the first time."

The omens are good for Pakistan, with Sri Lanka having won just one of their last five Test series against them, though they did win 2-0 in their last encounter in 2017.

 

Suranga Lakmal has withdrawn from Sri Lanka's squad to face Pakistan after contracting dengue fever.

The fast bowler will not travel with his team-mates on Sunday and has been replaced by Asitha Fernando.

Sri Lanka confirmed the news in a tweet as the squad was preparing to depart for two Tests in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Lakmal's absence aside, the tourists boast a full-strength squad, in stark contrast to the one that headed to Pakistan in September and October, when 10 high-profile players withdrew amid security concerns. 

The opening Test begins on December 11 and will be the first in Pakistan in a decade.

Pakistan have recalled Fawad Alam to their Test squad for the two-match home series with Sri Lanka, over 10 years on from his last red-ball appearance for his country.

The series will mark the first home Tests for Pakistan since several Sri Lanka players and members of their coaching staff were injured in an attack on their team bus in March 2009.

Security concerns meant the matches were originally scheduled to be hosted at a neutral venue, but the success of limited-overs games in the country against the same opposition in September and October saw them switched to Pakistan.

Fawad has played only three Tests in his career, scoring a century on debut versus Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2009. His last appearance came against New Zealand in Dunedin that November.

The 34-year-old middle-order batsman replaces Iftikhar Ahmed in the 16-man squad. Iftikhar scored just 44 runs across the two-match series in Australia, which Pakistan lost 2-0.

Fast bowler Usman Shinwari, uncapped in the Test arena, replaces Muhammad Musa, who posted figures of 0-114 in his only appearance against Australia in Adelaide.

Sixteen-year-old quick Naseem Shah keeps his place in the squad, and will link up with his team-mates for the Under-19 World Cup, which starts in South Africa next month, at the conclusion of the series.

Rawalpindi hosts the first match, which begins on Wednesday, with the National Stadium in Karachi the venue for a decider starting on December 19.


Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Usman Shinwari.

Sri Lanka have appointed Mickey Arthur on a two-year deal as consultant head coach. 

It is the fourth national side the 51-year-old has taken charge of, following spells with Australia, South Africa and Pakistan.

Grant Flower has also taken up a role as batting coach, with David Saker and Shane McDermott overseeing bowling and fielding respectively.

South African Arthur, who left the top job with Pakistan after the Cricket World Cup, replaces former bowler Rumesh Ratnayake after he came in on an interim basis in August.

"It had been three very good years with Pakistan and I needed a little bit of time away," said Arthur. "The Sri Lankan job became available and I started discussions.

"I looked at the talent that's available and that's the key motivating factor - to help these young players fulfil their potential."

First up for Pakistan for Arthur's Sri Lanka will be a two-match Test series with Pakistan, starting next week.

Sri Lanka have named a full-strength squad for the first Tests to be played in Pakistan in a decade.

Ten high-profile players opted not to tour when Sri Lanka visited Pakistan for three one-day internationals and three T20s in September and October, with limited-overs captains Dimuth Karunaratne and Lasith Malinga among those absent.

However, Karunaratne will skipper a strong group that also includes Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal for the two Tests in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

The only change to the Sri Lanka squad that faced New Zealand in August sees Kasun Rajitha replace Akila Dananjaya, who is serving a one-year ban for an illegal action.

Pakistan have not hosted a five-day game since several Sri Lanka players and members of their coaching staff were injured in an attack on their team bus in March 2009.

These two Tests were originally scheduled to be hosted at a neutral venue because of security concerns but will now take place in Pakistan following the success of the limited-overs games in the country.

The first Test begins on December 11 in Rawalpindi.

 

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan.

Sri Lanka will be the opponents for Pakistan's first Test series on home soil for a decade next month.

There has been no cricket in the longest format in Pakistan since a terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.

While there has been some limited-overs internationals in Pakistan, the ICC Champions Trophy holders have had to play home Tests in the United Arab Emirates due to concerns over security.

Sri Lanka recently travelled to Pakistan for white-ball contests and have now agreed to return for Tests at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium and Karachi's National Stadium - starting on December 11 and 19 respectively.

Zakir Khan, PCB director - international cricket, said: "This is a fabulous news for Pakistan cricket and its reputation of being as safe and secure as any other country in the world.

"We are thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket for agreeing to send their team for the longer version of the game, which will contribute significantly in the PCB's efforts and drive for regular resumption of international cricket, and help in its endeavours of attracting new audiences and younger generation.

"Now that the itinerary has been confirmed, we will shift our focus on series preparations to ensure we deliver arrangements as per our very high standards.

"This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media."

Peerless David Warner concluded a dominant Twenty20 series with another half-century as Australia made it three wins from three with a seven-wicket defeat of much-improved tourists Sri Lanka.

Australia clinched the series after just two matches following a pair of dismal Sri Lanka showings, before the 3-0 whitewash was sealed on Friday in more testing circumstances.

Sri Lanka had failed to reach three figures in the opener as their hosts celebrated a record win, before their batting effort in a nine-wicket second reverse was condemned as "unacceptable" by coach Rumesh Ratnayake.

A total of 142-6 at the MCG was therefore encouraging, with Kusal Perera top-scoring by making 57 - his side's first fifty of the series.

Yet that tally was still never likely to be enough to stop an Australia outfit powered by the resurgent Warner, who followed up knocks of 100 not out and 60no with an unbeaten 57, completing the chase on 145-3 with 14 balls to spare.

Playing for his country for the first time since a dismal Ashes series with the bat, Warner led the way in all three matches without losing a wicket on his return to a shorter format, with T20s and Tests against Pakistan now next up later this month.

It had appeared Sri Lanka might be set for further humiliation when Niroshan Dickwella departed for a golden duck in the first over, but Kusal Mendis (13) and Perera steadied the ship.

Ben McDermott had taken a simple catch for the breakthrough off Mitchell Starc's (2-32) bowling, and the next two wickets - Kane Richardson (2-25) removing Mendis, and Pat Cummins (2-23) prising out Avishka Fernando (20) - also landed kindly in the lap of the Tasmania star.

Yet Sri Lanka still did not crumble, thanks largely to Perera, who responded in a partnership with Oshada Fernando that plundered 23 off 14.

Cummins finally got rid of Perera, directing to extra cover, in the 17th over, but some solid late work from Bhanuka Rajapaksa (17 no) carried the visitors to a respectable if ultimately uncompetitive score.

Aaron Finch recovered from his first-ball exit in the second match to do the early heavy lifting with the bat for Australia, making 37 off 25 before Lahiru Kumara intervened.

The Warner-Steve Smith partnership that sped the Aussies to victory last time out was less effective on this occasion - the latter going for 13 - but the in-form opener kept to his task.

Warner found another effective partner in Ashton Turner (22 off 15), although the former might have departed when the ball dropped onto his stumps and the bails stayed on.

That let-off allowed the T20 specialist to reach his half-century and then fittingly clinch victory with a four.

Sri Lanka assistant coach Rumesh Ratnayake was "gutted" after another poor batting performance proved costly against Australia in a Twenty20 international.

Chasing 234 to win the series opener in Adelaide, Sri Lanka were restricted to 99-9 last Sunday.

And another one-sided contest played out in Brisbane on Wednesday, as the tourists were bowled out for 117 with one over to spare.

Just two Sri Lanka batsmen passed 20 as quicks Billy Stanlake and Pat Cummins and spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa took two wickets each.

Australia then chased down a victory target of 118 in 13 overs, with David Warner (60 not out) and Steve Smith (53 not out) guiding their side to a convincing nine-wicket win.

"Disappointed is ... I think it's too nice a word," Ratnayake told reporters, with Australia now holding an unbeatable 2-0 series lead with one to play.

"I'm gutted, really. The boys are gutted. But [it is] unacceptable because the way we batted ... [it was] as if we, at times, we thought we were going to be all out in the 12th over or so.

"We are going to rectify it. We are going to sort of revisit [it] in our meetings and see what went wrong. It is intent which I feel was not there."

Sri Lanka entered the three-match series in Australia fresh off a 3-0 whitewash of world number one side Pakistan.

Making that triumph even better was the fact it came in Pakistan, but Sri Lanka have struggled on the fast, bouncy Australian pitches.

Ratnayake said it was a priority to correct that ahead of next year's T20 World Cup, to be played in Australia from October to November.

"Our preparation needs to be much more ... it needs to have at least a period of six weeks," he said.

"We came directly - virtually directly from Pakistan. The sub-continent wickets are different from these ... no excuses though.

"Adaptation was the thing which we did not do in the past two matches."

Australia paceman Stanlake was pleased with his night's work but preferred to talk up former Test captain Smith, who caught the eye with a terrific half-century.

"It's exciting for us. I think it's exciting for the public as well, just to watch him play T20 cricket," Stanlake said.

"Obviously, they don't get to see him do that too much.

"But yeah, he is an absolute class player, you saw how he good was tonight, again. He does it in all formats and hopefully we can see him doing it often."

The three-match Twenty20 international series concludes in Melbourne on Friday.

David Warner and Steve Smith each produced unbeaten half-centuries as Australia breezed to a nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka and secured a Twenty20 series win.

Australia enjoyed a record margin of victory in the opening contest of the three-match series, triumphing by 134 runs, and it quickly became apparent matters would be similarly straightforward at the Gabba.

Sri Lanka batted first and could not see out the 20 overs as they were all out for 117 with Kusal Perera top-scoring on a measly 27.

Captain Aaron Finch's first-ball dismissal for the hosts was then as good as it got for Sri Lanka with the ball, as Smith joined Warner for a straightforward chase, which was completed with seven overs still remaining.

The opener made 60 and Smith added 53 as Australia (118-1) clinched the series with a match to spare, ahead of surely more taxing T20 and Test outings against Pakistan next month.

Sri Lanka did not help themselves after winning the toss and electing to bat, with a terrible mix-up seeing Kusal Mendis run out in just the second over.

Australia never ceded control and shared the wickets around as Ashton Agar (2-27) accounted for the potentially dangerous duo of Avishka Fernando (17) and Perera.

Alex Carey was busy behind the wicket, stumping both Wanindu Hasaranga and Lasith Malinga off the bowling of Adam Zampa (2-20).

Billy Stanlake took 2-23 and Pat Cummins 2-29, before the latter ran out Lakshan Sandakan to bring another dismal Sri Lanka innings to a close.

Opening bowler Malinga then gave the tourists brief hope as Finch was caught down the leg side by Perera, though that wicket merely brought Smith to the crease.

An unbroken partnership of 117 was speedy enough without being truly explosive, with 15 fours - four of them in the fifth over alone - but no maximums between Warner and Smith.

Sandakan made a mess of a late attempted run-out of Smith, and Australia had seven overs to spare when Hasaranga bowled a wide past Warner to complete a simple chase.

David Warner said the support he received from Australia fans was music to his ears as he marked his birthday by scoring a maiden Twenty20 International century in a hammering of Sri Lanka.

Warner must have had jeers ringing in his ears when he returned home after spectators in England let him know what they thought about his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

The opening batsman was subjected to boos and verbals from crowds during the Cricket World Cup and a drawn Ashes series after making his comeback from a one-year suspension.

Warner endured a miserable Ashes series with the bat but scored a hundred in New South Wales' Sheffield Shied opener this month and plundered 100 not out in the first match of the T20 series against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The left-hander expressed his gratitude to the Adelaide Oval crowd after he smashed the Sri Lanka attack to all parts in a 134-run drubbing - Australia's biggest by runs in a T20 - on his 33rd birthday.

"It's always fantastic to get that [support]. You sort of sit back and watch highlights of other people's packages and stuff, you forget how much it actually drives you when you're out there," said the former Australia vice-captain.

"We love the people's support and we love the Australian crowds coming out and supporting us and we always try and put on a show for them.

"But I don't think they actually realise how much impact it has on us players while we are out there. I remember when I was supporting the [Sydney] Roosters in the [NRL] Grand Final this year.

"When you've got that support behind the team or when you're supporting someone else, it's a massive boost, the confidence for us and for the other people out there playing."

Warner said there was no other ground he would rather have been playing at in his first home international since returning from his ban.

"Emotions were great. Another year older. Another game for Australia and coming out here in front of an Adelaide crowd," he added.

"There's no better place to play, you know. You've always got a fantastic wicket; the curators are absolutely fantastic here. It's a batting paradise. I absolutely love it out here."

The tourists could only make 99-9 in reply to Australia's imposing 233-2, Adam Zampa taking 3-14.

David Warner marked his return to the international Twenty20 arena with a stunning maiden century as Australia eased past Sri Lanka by 134 runs in their opening game.

Warner was back in the T20 fold for the first time since the infamous ball-tampering saga, in which the star Australia batsman served a year-long suspension.

Having already made his Test and ODI comeback, birthday boy Warner capped his T20 return with an unbeaten hundred in his 71st appearance against touring Sri Lanka in Adelaide on Sunday.

Warner led Australia to a record-breaking victory, surpassing last year's 100-run win over Zimbabwe, and their highest T20 total on home soil – 233-2 – before hapless Sri Lanka only managed 99-9 in response at Adelaide Oval.

After a forgettable Ashes series in England which only yielded 95 runs across five matches, Warner was desperate to return to form as the Australian summer got underway.

Warner was back to his brilliant best on his 33rd birthday as the big-hitting star scored 100 runs from just 56 balls in game one of the three-match series against Sri Lanka – bringing up his ton from the last delivery of the innings.

The tone was set by Warner and captain Aaron Finch (64) after Sri Lanka opted to bowl first, with the opening pair combining for 122 runs from just 10.5 overs and reaching their half-centuries in the same over.

Finch and Warner smacked consecutive sixes from Kasun Rajitha – who finished with figures of 0-75 from four overs for the most expensive spell in T20 history – before the former was caught at deep midwicket off the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan (1-41).

Glenn Maxwell (62) then joined Warner at the crease as the duo put on 107 runs from just 52 balls, though Maxwell was dismissed by Dasun Shanaka (1-10) in the last over.

Sri Lanka made a nightmare start to their run chase after Kusal Mendis fell victim to Mitchell Starc (2-18) for a duck in the first over, before the visitors were left reeling at 13-3 in the four over as Pat Cummins (2-27) wreaked havoc.

Shanaka was Sri Lanka's highest score with 17 on putrid day for Sri Lanka, with spinner Adam Zampa (3-14) cleaning up the final three wickets, while Maxwell produced a stunning piece of fielding to run out Wanindu Hasaranga (5).

Cricket West Indies (CWI) today announced a brand new three-year home fixtures cycle, featuring the West Indies teams in all formats with matches in all the main venues across the Caribbean.

England have confirmed the schedule for their two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in March.

The first Test will begin on March 19 in Galle, with the second match slated to commence eight days later in Colombo.

Those contests will form part of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.

A three-day warm-up game against a Sri Lanka Cricket Board President's XI in Katunayake will kick the tour off for Joe Root's men on March 7, with another four-day match taking place in Colombo from March 12.

England completed a 3-0 series whitewash on their previous Test tour of Sri Lanka in November 2018.

England sit fifth in the World Test Championship table after the drawn Ashes series against Australia, while Sri Lanka occupy third with four more points.

India are 180 points clear at the top after five victories out of five against West Indies and South Africa.

Lasith Malinga returns to captain Sri Lanka, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando have retained their places in the Twenty20 International squad for the series in Australia.

Malinga was among a host of players who opted out of the recent tour of Pakistan, which Sri Lanka ended with a historic 3-0 whitewash of the top-ranked T20 side in the world.

Dasun Shanaka skippered an inexperienced team in Malinga's absence, but the paceman is set to resume leadership duties in a three-match series that starts at Adelaide Oval on October 27.

Batsmen Rajapaksa and Oshada are also among the 16 players selected after making their debuts in Pakistan.

Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella are among the other names to come back into the squad.

 

Sri Lanka squad:

Lasith Malinga (captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha.

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