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Published: Saturday, July 14, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Kandy: As the Indians seek to leave behind their 10-wicket mauling in the first Test in Galle, recent history is what they must be looking at to provide them confidence for making a come-back into the three-Test series.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Going in to the second Test starting on Wednesday, the Indians would be boosted by the fact that only recently they have effected one of the greatest turnarounds in history - and against one of the greatest teams of all times. The 2-1 win against Australia must be a reassuring thought and giving them the confidence required to repeat that performance.But more importantly, the Indians realise that it would be the hosts who would be under pressure despite their thumping victory in Galle. The Sri Lankans have lost their previous two Tests in Kandy - in the series against South Africa and England earlier this year - and on both those occasions, they had taken a 1-0 lead.In a similar situation this time, the Sri Lankans would be on the defensive to put their record straight and that provides the Indians the breathing space. But history can never be an excuse for non-performance. The Indians, without some of their top stars, were outplayed in every department of the game in the first Test. It was only through an unexpectedly heroic last wicket stand between Rahul Dravid and Venkatesh Prasad that saved them the ignominy of a first-ever innings defeat against Sri Lanka.And a similar fate could await them here if they do not rise to the occasion and play to their potential. Captain Saurav Ganguly had said after the first match that his team would come roaring back the way they did against Australia. "We must fight back. We have to," he said.Despite the wide gulf between his words and deeds, he must get it right this time if he has to save his captaincy and probably his place in the team. "Captaining India is an extremely difficult task," Ganguly said ahead of the second Test. What he probably left unsaid was that he was finding it even more difficult to regain his batting form.Once famous for his fluent and artistic off-side play, Ganguly has been woefully short of runs and has not touched 50 in the last 12 Test innings. Coupled with his frequent courting of trouble with umpires and match-referees, he has attracted a lot of criticism with demands for his head growing with each failure.He has been outsmarted by the opposition in his own forte, having been restricted in his natural play by a packed off-side field and forced to make mistakes. If he is hoping for any respite in Kandy, he won't find any with rival captain Sanath Jayasuriya on Monday saying Sri Lanka would continue to play with four fast bowlers."We have our strongest pace attack in recent times and I think that would be vital for the team's chances here," Jayasuriya said. Coach Dave Whatmore agreed with the captain. "Right now our fast bowlers are on top and we will continue with them," he said. PTI


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