Buoyant Sri Lanka are looking to clinch the Test series against England when they return to their favourite hunting ground for the second Test starting here on Sunday (tomorrow).
Most teams have suffered heartbreak at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in central Colombo where Sri Lanka have won 10 of their last 12 Tests since losing to Nasser Hussain’s Englishmen in 2001.
The last time England played here in 2003 under current captain Michael Vaughan, Sri Lanka coasted to victory by an innings and 215 runs with Muttiah Muralitharan grabbing seven wickets in the match.
The off-spinner, who claimed nine scalps in the first Test in Kandy last week on way to becoming Test cricket’s leading bowler, is again predicted to be England’s nemesis.
Muralitharan has 143 wickets in 21 Tests at the Sinhalese Sports Club , where the even-paced pitch is good for batting on the first three days before spin comes into play on the wearing surface towards the end.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, delighted by his team’s 88-run win in the first Test in spite of a spirited England challenge, was confident the series can be sealed here before the final Test in Galle.
“This has been a good venue for us but we still need to make sure we press the advantage and don’t let England come back at us,” said Jayawardene.“England have got some quality players, but I think we showed a lot of character at Kandy by coming back strongly after being down 42-5 in the first hour of the match,” he added.
England have much to fear from Jayawardene and the prolific Kumar Sangakkara, whose match-winning 152 in Sri Lanka’s second innings in Kandy took the match away from the tourists.
It was at the SSC in July last year that the Sri Lankan captain and his deputy compiled Test cricket’s highest partnership of 624 runs against hapless South Africa with Jayawardene making 374 and Sangakkara 287.
Sri Lanka went on to win that match by an innings and 153 runs and England can once again expect a ruthless display by the hosts who say they are tougher and wiser after the recent tour of Australia.
Sri Lanka lost both Tests against the world champions, but Jayawardene said the tour had taught them a few lessons. “As a young team we learnt how we need to improve our character and not give up a game after the first couple of days, but to keep fighting for everything and create more opportunities,” the captain said.
“These kind of things we showed in the first Test. The way forward for us is to continue to do that,” he added. Sri Lanka will take the field without veteran batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who retired from Test cricket after the Kandy match.
Jayasuriya, 38, finished as Sri Lanka’s highest run-getter in both forms of the game with 6,973 runs from 110 Tests and 12,207 runs from 403 one-dayers. Sri Lanka will also miss his left-arm spin bowling that fetched him 98 Test and 307 one-day wickets.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:england, England in Sri Lanka 2007, Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Vaughan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Saturday, December 8th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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