Sri Lanka were dealt a major blow ahead of their two-Test series against Pakistan starting December 11 with bowling spearhead Suranga Lakmal ruled out of the tour due to dengue.

Ashitha Fernando has been named Lakmal’s replacement, but will only join the squad for the second Test. Sri Lanka are to play two Tests – first in Rawalpindi starting the day after tomorrow and second at the National Stadium Karachi starting December 19.

Fernando’s last international appearance came in 2018 against Zimbabwe in an ODI and ever since he has been playing age-group cricket. Recently, he was part of Sri Lanka’s u-23 and Emerging squads and is in Nepal, part of the cricket team representing the country in the South Asian Games 2019.

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Sri Lanka visited Pakistan in September-October wherein the two teams competed in three ODIs and as many T20Is. Sri Lanka had last month announced their full-strength squad for the Test matches. The team, led by Dimuth Karunaratne, will leave for Pakistan on Sunday to take part in the series, held under the ongoing ICC World Test Championship.

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The Test series will mark the return of Test cricket to Pakistan after 10 years. Sri Lanka were the last team to play Tests there, in 2009, when their tour was cut short by an attack on the team bus.