Thatscricket - News - Emphasis turns to spin in India-Sri Lanka decider

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo: Spin, rather than pace, is set to play a major role when India takes on Sri Lanka in the third and decisive cricket Test starting on Wednesday.Unlike the previous two Tests where the seam bowlers were the preferred option, both teams are looking to bolster their spin attack on an unusually dry wicket at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) Ground.While India is toying with the idea of playing leggie Sairaj Bahutule in the crucial tie, Sri Lanka has included rookie off spinner Thilan Samaraweera in its shortlist of 12.Both sides will name their playing sides just before the toss, waiting till the last minute to see if Tuesday's drenching of the wicket by the ground staff changes its character."This is not the usual SSC wicket with bounce, it will turn for sure," Indian captain Saurav Ganguly commented during his team's training session on Tuesday.Home captain Sanath Jayasuriya was more guarded, saying "The turn will come only later in the match." Sri Lanka has abandoned the policy of playing four seamers that it showed in the first two Tests at Galle and Kandy on wickets that sported more grass.The hosts won the first Test by 10 wickets, but lost the second by seven wickets to set up an enthralling finale to the three-match series.If India plays Bahutule, who made his debut against Australia earlier this year, new ball bowler Harvinder Singh will sit out as Ganguly takes on the role of third seamer behind Venkatesh Prasad and Zaheer Khan.Ganguly indicated the batting will remain unchanged, giving one more chance to left-hander Hemang Badani to come good after a lean series so far."Hemang deserves another opportunity," the Indian captain said. "It's not right to drop a batsman after two games. Hemang has potential and maybe he will make a mark in this Test."Ganguly declined to comment on the Indian selectors' refusal to fly in seamer Ajit Agarkar for the final Test, as requested by the team management."Yes, we had asked for Ajit, but it is the selectors' prerogative to refuse. I really don't want to comment on that," Ganguly said. Sri Lanka, clearly rattled by the loss in the Kandy Test, has axed the two Pereras, Ruchira and Suresh, to accommodate young batsman Michael Vandort and fast bowler Duleep Liyanage.A third change is also in the offing if a decision is made on Wednesday morning to include Samaraweera in place of off-form veteran Hashan Tillekeratne.Samaraweera, whose brother Dalip played seven Tests in the early 1990s, is also a useful lower order batsman, making 76 in a three-day match against the Indians prior to the series.Left-handed Vandort, who hit 116 in the same match opening the batting, is slotted to come in at number three, pushing Kumara Sangakkara lower down the order.Sri Lanka has a 5-5 win-loss record at the SSC ground with seven draws. India won here in 1993 to achieve its last series victory abroad, but played out high-scoring draws in 1997 and 1999.

Copyright AFP 2001


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