ICL: Indian Cricket League


Sri Lanka face tough selection calls

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Before Sri Lanka start their final campaign to win a Test in Australia with their golden generation they must first make a couple of crucial decisions over the make-up of their team. After being thrashed by an innings and 40 runs in the opening match in Brisbane, the tourists face a restructure in an all-or-nothing attempt to beat the hosts.

A few things fall in Sri Lanka’s favour: the pitch should spin as the match wears on, the conditions are unlikely to aid swing and the surface does not offer the extra bounce that caused problems at the Gabba. However, Australia have not lost any of the seven Tests played at Bellerive Oval and they arrived in Tasmania determined to improve on their stunning first-Test performance. A victory would earn Ricky Ponting’s 14th win in a row.

While Sri Lanka’s selectors have many things to discuss, Australia have no concerns over the composition of their 11. Michael Clarke has a tight hamstring but is not in doubt, leaving an unchanged side and no way in for Ben Hilfenhaus, the local swing bowler. Mahela Jayawardene must wish life was so easy.

A fit Kumar Sangakkara would ease some of Jayawardene’s batting concerns after his team was dismissed for 211 and 300 in Brisbane. Sangakkara missed the first Test with a hamstring injury and the Sri Lankans will weigh up the importance of using a key performer in a vital game with restricting further damage ahead of next month’s home series with England.

“If Kumar is fit he will probably bat at three,” Jayawardene said. “Nothing is finalised yet until we get Kumar’s fitness sorted.” Sangakkara will have a test on Friday morning but is confident of playing. “I had a run today,” he said, “and everything is good.”

If Sangakkara is picked Thilan Samaraweera looks most vulnerable even though he offers a part-time slow-bowling option. He has scored only 119 runs in his past four Tests, including 13 and 20 in Brisbane, while Chamara Silva collected 40 and 43. The bowling line-up is also expected to be altered with the addition of Lasith Malinga.

Sri Lanka missed the fire of Malinga in Brisbane and during the Test it was revealed Chaminda Vaas was the bowler most likely to miss out if Malinga had played. Vaas is in line to reach his 100th Test if selected for Hobart and leaving him out would be a tough call. “We have four quicks and [Muttiah Muralitharan] so we will have to make a decision,” Jayawardene said. “Malinga is an attacking option. We need to win a Test match. I think there’s a good possibility he can come into the side.

“I made tougher decisions than this in the World Cup when we left Marvan Atapattu out and in England. It’s a decision you have to take regardless of seniority or the performances of the guys just on form and who you think can get the job done.”

One bowler who is ready to trouble Australia is Muralitharan, who needs seven wickets to pass Shane Warne’s world bowling record. Murali picked up only two victims during Australia’s one innings in Brisbane, but Ricky Ponting expects to bat twice at Bellerive, giving the offspinner more opportunities to reach 709 wickets. The home batsmen want to delay Muralitharan’s assault of Warne’s mark and if they continue to play him well they will achieve their aim and increase the chances of a 2-0 series result.

Sri Lanka’s players will also be trying to forget about Atapattu’s comments during the first Test that the selection committee was made up of “muppets headed by a joker”. Jayawardene said there was no reason to dwell on the incident when there was a Test to be played, and Atapattu is set to stay at the top of the order. “Marvan is batting really well,” he said. “His attitude towards the team and the series is very good so I don’t see why he should not take part in the Test. He is working really hard since he came back in the side and he deserves a spot in the team.”

Only seven Tests have been played at Bellerive Oval, with Sri Lanka appearing in the first one in 1989-90, when Rumesh Ratnayake took career-best figures of 6 for 66 on the opening day before centuries to Mark Taylor, Dean Jones and Steve Waugh set up Australia’s 173-run victory.

Back then Sri Lanka were classed as easybeats and the current side of high-quality players is desperate to avoid a similar tag after Australia’s opening success. This is their second major visit to Tasmania and they want to sign off in style to prove they can eyeball Australia. Thanking their core group of experienced campaigners for their career contributions will be another strong motivating factor.

Australia 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 Phil Jaques, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Andrew Symonds, 7 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 8 Brett Lee, 9 Stuart Clark, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 Stuart MacGill.

Sri Lanka (likely) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Marvan Atapattu, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Michael Vandort, 6 Chamara Silva, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Farveez Maharoof, 9 Dilhara Fernando, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 16th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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