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Sunday, 12 July 2009

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Second Test vs Pakistan begins at the P. Sara today:

Lankans must go for the kill from ball one

CRICKET: Sri Lanka buoyed after their exciting First Test victory in Galle will take the field exuding confidence and determined to win the Second Test against Pakistan beginning at the P. Sara Stadium today and wrap up the Three-Test series The Pakistanis wounded by their startling defeat, in a game they could easily have wrapped up, will take the field roaring and determined to devour the Lankans and avenge their defeat. The Pakistanis must be still wondering as to where they went wrong in Galle after dominating the Test for most of the time. Until the fourth morning they were the better team and looked winners.

But their batsmen failed to ride the pressure when they resumed and that caused their downfall. Pressure in this Test too could be a telling factor and the side able to face it better could be the victors.

The wicket at the P. Sara has always been a true one, but the side winning the toss and batting first would certainly be at an advantage. Any wicket for that matter tend to crumble and help the spinners in the closing stages and it should be no different this time.

The side batting first must target a formidable score and endeavour not to bat a second time. A big score can put pressure on the side striking second and could cause a collapse.

Pakistan captain Younus Khan is on record saying that his youngsters failed to withstand the pressure that led to their defeat in Galle. If that is what he thinks, then it is all the more important that he brings in the experienced duo of Abdur Razzaq and Danesh Kaneira.Razzaq is a more than ordinary allrounder. He has proved this on a number of occasions. True that he threw in his lot with the Indian Cricket League and was made to unjustly pay for it. But now that he is back, he should be made use of and not further penalised. Kaneira is an excellent leg-spin googly bowler. On a fourth or fifth day wicket, he can be a match winner.

The Pakistani selectors will do well to give these two experienced campaigners a go in this vital game. A loss could be unpalatable and would mean a loss of the series. As for the Lankans, they must not rest on their laurels but tighten the screws on the Pakistanis from the first ball and probe for a series clinching win. A win here will do their cricket a lot of good.It is said that one should not tinker with the winning combination. And the Lankans will stick to that axiom and go in with the same line up. At the time of writing, the Sri Lankan selectors headed by former Sri Lankan allrounder Ashantha de Mel have named the same squad.

Off-spinning champion Muttiah Muralitharan and regular wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardena are still nursing injuries and were not considered.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath who was flown in when Muralitharan was unavailable bowled the Lankans to victory and will hold his place for the remainder of the series.

The only disappointment somewhat was the inability of mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis to make his presence felt in Galle. But he need not be unduly worried and could come good on the Sara wicket that is known to favour his spin.

It is important that Mahela Jayawardena comes good with the bat.

It was surprising his failures in Galle. But he is too good to keep failing and the gut feeling is that he is in for a big score.Kumar Sangakkara had a debut dream game as captain.

He will be looking to carry that fortune into this game too and make it a memorable one with another win that could give his team the series. Over then to the P. Sara Stadium and another thrilling game.

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