Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah and all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz have been picked to play the first Test against Sri Lanka as the tourists announced their XI on Friday.

Between 2009 and 2015, there were no fewer than seven Test series between the two sides, with Pakistan visiting Sri Lanka four times in six years to play 11 Tests. Only one player from each side is still part of the squad that began that cycle in 2009. For Sri Lanka, it s the relatively ever-present Angelo Mathews, and for Pakistan, whatever the opposite of that is in Fawad Alam. While Fawad s redemptive narrative arc has already been exhausted, it is another Pakistan player who might be looking to script his own over the next fortnight. He played just the final of those quickfire series in Sri Lanka, but the impact he would make provided Pakistan with a template for short-term Test domination.

Yasir Shah had only made his Test debut following Saeed Ajmal s bowling-action issues, and this excitable, gregarious leg pinner was only seven months into his international career. Sure, the run-up needed sorting, an aspect none other than Shane Warne helped him fine-tune, and he needed to bowl slower to allow natural drift and spin to have its maximum impact, but there was something here to work with. Even so, having him shoulder the responsibility of matching Sri Lanka on their own turf in a spin-bowling shoot-out seemed excessive. For all of Ajmal s brilliance, there was a reason Pakistan had ended up on the wrong side of the previous three Test series results in the island nation.

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Yasir, 36, will play his first Test since August last year after recovering from a thumb injury, Pakistan said in a statement on the eve of the two-match series starting Saturday in Galle.

Nawaz, a left-hand batsman who bowls left-arm spin, will return to the side after almost six years.

Pakistan, led by Babar Azam, have handed Salman Ali Agha his international debut after the all-rounder impressed in the country s domestic competition.

The 28-year-old Agha is a batsman who bowls off-spin.

Pakistan XI: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah