ISLAMABAD        -      Sri Lankan cricket team arrived here on Monday ahead of their two-Test series against Pakistan, starting tomorrow (Wednesday).

It was a proud moment for Pakistan, as Test cricket was returning to the country after more than a decade. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had announced a competitive and full-strength squad for the Tests. The first Test will be played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, while the second and final Test will be played at National Stadium, Karachi from December 19-23.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials and fans were present at the Islamabad International Airport to welcome the visiting team and officials. However, the fans were not allowed to interact with the visitors due to security measures. PCB officials were issued special passes to receive the visitors, while a FIA counter was also established at the airport. Then the visitors were taken to their hotel for rest under strict security. Suranga Lakmal, who is a successful Sri Lankan bowler especially away from home, was missing from the touring team, as he was suffering from dengue fever. Suranga was replaced by Asitha Fernando, who was earlier part of Sri Lanka’s U-23 and Emerging team.

Meanwhile, Pakistani players underwent a training session at the Rawalpindi Stadium. It was huge festivity around the stadium, as the entire double road was sealed due to security issues and no one was allowed to travel on vehicles, except authorized security and media persons. Many people were gathered at the double road, where busses carrying Pakistani players were making entry.

The fans raised slogans for their national players and even tried to follow the busses, but they were stopped by the security officials. The national players were looking very excited and trying to give their 100 percent in the training, as the current players, including captain Azhar Ali and vice captain Babar Azam, have never played any Test at home soil. They trained hard for two hours and then went to their hotel for rest.

When it comes to the Rawalpindi Stadium, the ground staff members have done a fantastic job to prepare the pitches, shape the entire ground and whitewash all the stands. Some changes were made in the chairman box, while the newly-constructed media centre was also inaugurated. PCB officials Sami-ul-Hassan Burni, Raza Rashid, Shakeel Khan, Nazeer Ahmed and some others were present at the ground. The teams will attend net practice session for two hours today (Tuesday) before both the captains will address a press conference at the media centre.

SRI LANKA SQUAD: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 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, Lakshan Sandakan, Asitha Fernando.