Mumbai:Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Tuesday said his team would look to exploit Gautam Gambhir's absence from the Indian batting line-up in the third and final match to notch up their maiden Test win in the country.
"We hope to exploit Gambhir's absence. He is the batsman in form, he has scored a lot of runs this year, two hundreds against us in two Test matches. The absence of a quality player like that leaves a gap," Sangakkara said in the pre-match press conference.
Sangakkara, however, refused to underestimate Gambhir's replacement Murali Vijay, who has played just one Test in his still nascen international career.
"Gambhir's absence means the new guy coming in (M Vijay) will be really hungry to make a mark. To exploit that is our responsibility, we will try and do that," he said.
Gambhir will miss the series-decider to attend his sister's wedding in Delhi.
The visiting side's captain said his team is likely to add an extra seamer after playing three spinners during the big loss in the second Test, leaving out Ajantha Mendis from the playing XI this time.
"I think we will probably go with an extra fast bowler over a spinner on this track. The Kanpur track showed signs of a lot of wear and tear once the second day was over. Here it doesn't seem as dull as that, so the fast bowlers will have an equal chance as the spinners to make an impact. That will mean (Ajantha) Mendis will miss out," the Lanka captain said.
With Dammika Prasad ruled out due to a hamstring injury, Sri Lanka would go in with a three-pronged pace attack comprising left-armer Chanaka Welegedara, Angelo Mathews and either Nuwan Kulasekara or Dilhara Fernando.
Sangakkara indicated Kulasekara had a better chance than Fernando of making the eleven.
"In the last two to three series, Kulasekara has been an outstanding asset to us in Test cricket as well as one-day cricket. I think quality wise Kulasekara has the edge (over Dilhara Fernando)," Sangakkara said.
The Lanka captain also sprang to the defence of his struggling spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, the world's highest wicket-taker in Tests, who has tasted very little success in the first two Tests.
"Murali is still our best spinner and in my view he is still the best spinner in the world. When you have that quality in the side, you have to back that quality and that ability. He is still the spearhead of our attack and we are backing him a hundred percent to turn it around and win a match for us," he said.
"He is still hungry. We just want him to enjoy himself in the side, feel that he is a valued member for as long as he wants to be with us and we really respect and enjoy the fact that he is with us in the dressing room and on the playing field," Sangakkara added.
"Murali has been talking about retirement for about two years. I think he is very realistic about himself and his career. I think there is a lot more left in him to help us win Test matches," Sangakkara said.
Agreeing that the Indian batsmen have got used to playing Muralitharan after facing him frequently over the last few years, Sangakkara said the ace bowler, who needs 12 wickets to reach the 800-mark, was still hungry for success.
"Of course the fact that four of the Indian batsmen have played against Murali for about four years continuously does help.
"But even if you know how to play a bowler, you still have to play him on match day and that challenge is still there and that motivation to try and do better than the opposition is still there for Murali," he said.
The left-handed batsman was optimistic his team would score big here and put the hosts under pressure.
"We accept the fact that we didn't play well enough to be 1-0 up until now other than in the first Test. We start from scratch again. Hopefully (we would) build up a big total or keep the Indians down to a manageable total and try and put as much pressure on them as we can," he said.
The tourists' skipper expected the wicket to help the spin bowlers from the third day.
"I think it will just continue to be a good wicket and take turn from the third day onwards," he said.
Sangakkara, had lost the toss in the first two games, said it is ideal to bat first after winning the toss in the sub-continent.
"On most sub-continental pitches, you would like to bat first when you win the toss because they tend to take a bit of turn afterwards. Our thinking hasn't changed in that regard. It's always nice to win the toss and set the tone from the first session onwards," he said.
Sangakkara rued the dropped ctahces in the first two Tests and also called on his batsmen to convert their starts into big scores.
"We created quite a few chances with the new ball. In the first innings of the first Test, then in the second innings and then in the second Test.
"But creating opportunities is one thing, taking those chances is another and those are the things that can change a game, especially when those batsmen go on to make big runs. So we have got to make sure that our catching is right on the mark from ball one," he emphasised.
"We have got to take a lot of responsibility in this match and covert our starts into big partnerships. We lost that (Kanpur) Test match due to the Indian first innings and our first innings," he said.