COLOMBO - Former captain Mahela Jayawardene has returned to Sri Lanka's squad for the three-Test series against Pakistan starting in the United Arab Emirates later this month, the cricket board said on Monday. Jayawardene, who opted out of the ongoing limited-overs series for personal reasons, was named in the 16-man squad led by all-rounder Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

Jayawardene, 36, is one of 11 batsmen worldwide and only the second Sri Lankan alongside current team-mate Kumar Sangakkara to score more than 10,000 runs in Test cricket. The stylish right-hander has made 10,806 runs in 138 Tests at an average of 49.56, with 31 centuries and 45 half-centuries. Wicketkeeper-batsman Prasanna Jayawardene also returns to Sri Lanka's 16-man Test squad after being left out for the home series against Bangladesh in March. The squad features a raft of young and inexperienced places, as Sri Lanka work towards replacing its seniors over the next 18 months.

Vishwa Fernando, a 22-year-old left-arm seamer, is the new face in the squad. He has claimed 37 wickets in 15 first-class matches. All-rounder Dilruwan Perera, who has yet to play Test cricket after seven limited-overs appearances, was also picked by the selectors ahead of unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis. Kaushal Silva has also been named, ostensibly as a replacement for the retired Tillakaratne Dilshan, as an opener. Left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando has been named in an international squad for the first time, despite missing out on both A team tours in the year. Offspinners Sachithra Senanayake and Dilruwan Perera are the other uncapped Test players in the squad, though both have played ODIs and Twenty20s. Mendis was omitted, after he had been part of the squad for the Bangladesh series.

Fast bowlers Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep will make a return to international cricket as well. Eranga had been omitted from the limited overs squad in the last two series, while Pradeep has not played for Sri Lanka since the New Year Test in Sydney. Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Kulasekara also find places in the squad, but there is no room for Thisara Perera. Chanaka Welegedara was unavailable for selection, as he remains in rehabilitation for his latest injury. Prasanna Jayawardene had played club cricket for Woodhall Spa in England during the northern hemisphere summer before returning to Sri Lanka for the four-day triangular tournament in October. He has had good scores in the past few months, and if he plays, will also add experience to Sri Lanka's batting order in Dilshan's absence. There are two other wicketkeeping options in the squad however, with both Silva and Dinesh Chandimal also capable of taking the gloves.

Silva has been prolific in first-class cricket over the last year, topping the run-scoring lists in the Premier League Tournament and as well as in the unofficial Tests against New Zealand A at home. He had played three Tests in 2011, but was unable to secure a place, averaging 14. He has hit 8489 first-class runs with 27 hundreds, and is likely open alongside Dimuth Karunaratne, who is already in the UAE with the ODI side.

Fernando, a whippy opening bowler who plays for Bloomfield Cricket Club, has not achieved outstanding results in domestic cricket so far, but has been chosen largely on potential. Rangana Herath will also both join the team in the UAE after they had ruled themselves out for the limited-overs legs of the tournament for personal reasons. The first of the three Tests begins in Abu Dhabi on December 31. The first Test starts in Abu Dhabi on December 31. The second will be played in Dubai from January 8 to 12 and the third in Sharjah from January 16 to 20.

SRI LANKA'S TEST SQUAD: A Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, M Jayawardene, Prasanna Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, V Fernando, Sachithra Senananyake, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera.