Resurgent India eye series win in SL

With Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly still out of form, India have their task cut out when they take on Sri Lanka in the the third and final Test.

updated: August 12, 2008 17:48 IST
  • Total Shares


The series-equalising win in Galle may have rejuvenated the Indian team but with senior batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly still out of form, the visitors have their task cut out when they take on Sri Lanka in the third and final Test starting from Friday.

The two teams are tied 1-1 after Virender Sehwag's fireworks with the bat, including an unbeaten double hundred, and Harbhajan Singh's 10-wicket haul won India the Galle Test, wiping away the disappointment of the innings defeat in the first Test.

However, the big four of the Indian line-up Tendulkar, Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are yet to come good and the team desperately needs them to fire as it bids for its second Test series triumph in the island nation after the 1-0 win 1993.

The Lankans, on the other hand, are still smarting from the Galle debacle and would once again be relying on the spin duo of Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan to stop the resurgent visitors, who would be without coach Gary Kirsten, forced to go home to attend to his critically ill mother.

Touted as a spinning track, the Galle was surprisingly assisting for seamers like Ishant Sharma.

Ishant and Zaheer Khan were able to generate quite a bit of pace and with the pitch here speculated to be friendly to both pace and spin, the duo could prove more than a handful for Mahela Jayawardene's men.

"Ishant is an exceptional bowler with his height he creates a bit of bounce on these kind of wickets. So that is something that India has," Jayawardene had acknowledged after the loss in the second Test.

Anuruddha Polonwita, the pitch curator for the third Test at P Saravanamuttu stadium here, said the track would be sporting though the first few hours of the opening day will give the faster bowlers a little more to cheer about.

"Though the bounce may be little more, it will be more or less like at SSC (Colombo venue for the first Test) and Galle," Polonwita said.

The Lankans pace attack is largely built around Chaminda Vaas and though the aging bowler manages to snap a wickets consistently, his declining speed has become matter of concern for the hosts.

But he is unlikely to be dropped due to the limited options that the Lankans have in the fast bowling department in the absence of an injured Lasith Malinga.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that India might drop Dinesh Karthik for his lapses behind the stumps and the poor form with the bat.

So it wouldn't be a surprise if Parthiv Patel, the left hander who has the distinction of being Test cricket's youngest wicketkeeper at 17 years and 153 days, may get a chance to show his worth.

As far as the Lankans go, they are likely to make two or three changes.

The 25-year-old uncapped pace bowler Dammika Prasad, who troubled the Indian batsmen in the practice game against Lanka Board XI, could be one of the options to replace Nuwan Kulasekara.

Kulasekara has been averaging between 114 and 125 kms in the matches against India.

"The selectors are discussing changes in the pace department and whether to continue with Michael Vandort," a source said.


India: Anil Kumble (c), Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Sachin Tendulkar.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dammika Prasad, Thilan Samaraweera, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Thilan Thushara, Chaminda Vaas, Michael Vandort, Malinda Warnapura.