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Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Dunith Velalez in line for Test debut against Pakistan

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Sri Lanka’s teenage spinner Dunith Velalez has been included in the last 12 for the second Test against Pakistan in Galle, skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said on Saturday. The 19-year-old Velalez, a left-arm orthodox, who is awaiting his Test debut, appears as a possible replacement for injured spinner Mahesh Thekshana as the hosts look to bounce back in the two-match series after their opening loss. “Dunith Velalez is back in the team after being released from the Test team for the home match,” Karunaratne told reporters.

“Asitha Fernando is back at 12. That’s the only change,” he said on the eve of Angelo Mathews’ 100th Test, starting Sunday.

Velez, who also works with the bat, played a key role in Sri Lanka’s 3-2 one-day series win over Australia last month with his nine-wicket haul, and could partner with Prabhat Jayasuriya in the final Test.

Pakistan raced to go up in a tense situation on the fifth day to chase down a record 342 runs at the Galle International Stadium, aided by an unbeaten 160 from opener Abdullah Shafiq.

Jayasuriya waged a lone battle with his left-arm spin to claim the match of nine wickets, but with little help from the other end.

Captain Karunaratne said, ‘We did well in the first Test but the conditions were not in our favour.

“Another area we need to work on is the first innings batting.”

Pakistan included left-arm spinner Nauman Ali in place of injured pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi in the squad announced on Saturday.

Shaheen took four wickets in the opener’s first innings and coach Saqlain Mushtaq said he will be missed.

“He is inspiring, leads the bowling unit and we will miss his aggression and his presence,” he added.

“The way he comes and gives us success in the beginning… Hopefully other bowlers will follow suit,” he added.

The Galle pitch has changed character in all three matches played in the past few weeks, including the two Tests against Australia.

Sri Lankan players believed the pitch fell flat in the final two days when Pakistan batted, but Saqlain said their batsmen were up to the task.

The former off-spinner said, “I believe the pitch was twisted and spun from day one, but I think our boys showed some good character in this match.”

“It was a display of determination, grit and temperament by our players.”

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Sri Lanka 12: Oshada Fernando, Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Dinuth Velalage, Prabhat Jayasuriya, Kasun Rajitha, Asitha Fernando

Pakistan XI: Abdullah Shafiq, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Naseem Shah

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