Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 8 November 2009





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Sri Lanka determined to beat India on Indian soil after 44 years!

CRICKET: Sri Lanka will be looking for that elusive winning formula when they tour India for a 3-Test, five ODI and T20 series scheduled to begin on November 8.

Kumar Sangakkara - A lot is expected from him in his batting and forceful leadership in tackling the forceful Indian team. Muttiah Muralitharan - The Vice-Captain of the side and the Indian team will have their hands full in countering his spin bowling. Mahela Jayawardena - Had gathered a lot of experience from his captaincy earlier and is in the right frame of mind to make many fruitful knocks on tour.

The team left yesterday (Saturday) evening for India on a 55-day tour. They will play a three-day “warm up” game prior to 1st Test which begins in Ahmedabad on the 16th of November.

It was way back in 1965 January, Sri Lanka, then Ceylon beat a fully-fledged Indian side led by the Nawab of Pataudi (Mansur Ali Khan) by 4 wickets in Ahmedabad in an unofficial Test. The Ceylonese were led by Michael Tissera. Since then, Sri Lanka still has to beat India in an official Test match on Indian soil. Sri Lanka has played 29 Tests and won five-all at home and India has won 11 matches and 13 matches have been drown. The first Test on the present tour will be from Nov. 16 to 20 at Ahmedabad after 44 years. Sri Lanka has also not beaten either Australia or South Africa in an away Test match.

“Besides India, we have got a couple, Australia and South Africa where we have not won Test matches away from home, so those are the challenges over the next few years. After 44 years in India we are trying to win a Test match. These are the challenges where the team has to look forward to.” said the Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara.

“We go to India, as all our teams have done before in the past and come back just like that. We got to give everything and try to win that last frontier for us in India, and lay confidence on that, and move to the One-day series”, the Sri Lanka captain said. Sangakkara said that there are some problems to be sorted out. He hinted that one of the wicketkeepers either Prasanna Jayawardena or debutant Kaushal Silva could fit into the vacant openers slot if necessary.

“Dilshan opening the innings has been very good for us. If he becomes successful in the Test format as he has been this year in the shorter versions, lot of the opposition bowlers will be under pressure. In Test cricket there are many gaps to be exploited, but if he can grind it out and identify the period that he got to be careful and if he can go with a proper mindset of attacking all the time it’s great. But he runs the risk of playing one shot too many”, the Sri Lankan captain lamented.

“Having Dilshan at the top there are advantages as well as disadvantages. So if there is a problem at the top, we have always options open down the order so that he won’t be under pressure,” added Sangakkara.

Sangakkara was uncertain of the Indian pitches that he will come across and said that he had the fast bowlers and three spinners who have done well against India in the past and whatever wicket they come across he had the balance to counter. He also expressed his confidence in the middle order batting.” I think the middle order batting has been doing really well for the past couple of years and that form has to last and that’s the batsmen’s job to be consistent. Wherever you perform, you got to go out there and score runs. The success of a team lasts as long as the batsmen do their job. We should understand if we don’t score there are enough of players waiting in the list to come and take the responsibilities. So one cannot rest and be complacent,” the Lankan captain stressed.

He said that Sri Lanka got to keep looking over our shoulders and make sure that we put enough distance between our nearest competitors. That kind of competition has to develop for everyone to keep on pushing for places in the side.

Sangakkara said that India has a very good side, they have their core batting group. Now they have a few youngsters around them who are doing really well. We beat them in Sri Lanka with that same side. Yuraj and Dhoni will not be there. Now we have two extra challenges when we go there, but again those are the things that you got to accept in cricket. I think we got to go to India with no baggage, nothing in our heads with clear minds, no complaints and the right attitude and enjoy India for 55 days. This is a tough task,” Sangakkara said.

The referral system which was introduced during the last Indian tour of Sri Lanka,which Sri Lanka won 2-1 will be once again in force during the tour.

“Hopefully the referral system will be to our advantage. The system is good and I don’t think anyone has to be afraid of it, because the truth will be revealed, whether it is marginal or not the batsman has to accept it and the bowlers will be happy having the slight advantage. So as a captain, I want to be entirely satisfied with the playing conditions and the referral system is very good, whether it works for us or against us I am for it”, Sangakkara added.

The Sri Lanka Test squad for the tour of India:

Kumar Sangakkara (Captain), Muttiah Muralitharan (Vice captain), Mahela Jayawardena, T.M. Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavithana, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Thilina Kandamby, Prasanna Jayawardena, Kaushal Silva, Chanaka Welegedera, Thilan Thushara Mirando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dhammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis. Stand byes: Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Kapugedera, Malinda Warnapura, Suraj Randev.

Test match itinerary: November 8: arrive in Mumbai, Nov. 11-13: three-day match at Mumbai, Nov. 16-20: 1st Test Ahmedabad, Nov. 24-28: 2nd Test at Kanpur, Dec. 2-6: 3rd Test Mumbai.

December 9: T20 International at Nagpur. Dec. 12: T20 International at Mohali.

ODI series: December 15: 1st ODI at Rajkot, Dec. 18: 2nd ODI Vishakapatnam, Dec. 21: 3rd ODI at Cuttack, Dec. 24: 4th ODI Kolkata, Dec. 27: 5th ODI Delhi.



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