Galle, June 29 – Sri Lanka have handed Test debut to 32-year-old spinner Jeffrey Vandersay in the opening game here from Wednesday after the leg-spinner impressed during the recent ODI series against the tourists.
Vandersay collected five wickets from four matches against Australia and has won an unlikely Test debut at the age of 32 to support the frontline spin duo Lasith Embuldeniya and Ramesh Mendis.
Right-armer Asitha Fernando is the sole specialist pacer selected in Sri Lanka’s final XI, with opener Pathum Nissanka winning a recall at the top of the batting order after he missed the recent Test series against Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the tourists have been boosted by the inclusion of in-form batter Travis Head for the clash.
Head had been in doubt for the opening match of the two-game Test series due to a hamstring injury, but the 28-year-old passed a fitness test on Wednesday morning and has been included in Australia’s final XI.
It means there is no recall for all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, after the veteran was called up as cover for Head in case the left-hander failed to prove his fitness for the important World Test Championship clash.
The hosts have won the toss and elected to bat first on Wednesday, with Mitchell Swepson winning the nod as Australia’s second spinner and as the main support to veteran slow bowler Nathan Lyon.
Sri Lanka XI: Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Ramesh Mendis, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando.
Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson.