Jayasuriya eyes Eng series after clinching ATC

Published: Sunday, March 10, 2002, 23:07 [IST]
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Lahore: Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya said he is setting his sights on England after clinching the Asian Test title with an emphatic eight-wicket win over Pakistan on Sunday.

"Winning the Asian Test Championship (ATC) is definitely a morale boost for us ahead of our tour to England and we will do our best to win that series as well," Jayasuriya told reporters. Sri Lanka tours England in May to play its first full three-match series. "We had a point to prove before the Asian Championship final since we had won all our previous eight Tests on home grounds and I am happy we have won this match," Jayasuriya, 32, said. Sri Lanka beat India in the last Test of its home series in July followed by clean sweep of West Indies and Zimbabwe in three-match series. "The boys know what is expected of them in international cricket and it's always a team effort and my team is gaining experience with each game they play," he said. The Sri Lankan captain denied off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan had been put off by remarks over his bowling action. "Muralitharan is mentally very strong and such things never distract him," he said. Indian spinner Bishen Singh Bedi and West Indian pacer re-ignited Muralitharan's bowling action controversy, saying he had a suspect action. Jayasuriya-led Sri Lanka also beat Pakistan 2-1 in its three-match Test series in 1999-2000 but lost its return series at home four months later. "We didn't play well when Pakistan beat us on our home ground but it's always in the game," he said. "Here we batted well, bowled well and I'm happy that Kumar Sangakkara hit a double hundred and Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralitharan bowled well throughout the match." Coach Dav Whatmore laughed when asked if he had a magic stick to guide Sri Lanka to victory. "Well, I have never seen a magic stick. I think the credit goes to the players who do it on the field," said Whatmore, who played five Tests for Australia and lifted Sri Lanka to the world title in 1996. "It's nice to record wins and it's my relationship with the boys that is highlighted after wins," he said. "Ingredients of a win are various and I am happy that everyone is contributing," he said. Pakistan was left disappointed after losing six of its last 14 Tests on home grounds. "It's disappointing to lose but we take it as a game and note some positives from it," said Waqar Younis, who lost for a second time in eight Tests, after he took over as captain last year. "One-off Test is always dangerous to play because you never have a chance to stage a comeback but I am happy for Inzamam-ul-Haq who was recently struggling with the bat," he said. "We batted, fielded and bowled poorly and were forced on the back foot after being dismissed for a low score in the first innings," he said. Sri Lanka put Pakistan in on a grassy pitch and dismissed it for just 234 on the first day. "Had we won the toss Sri Lanka could have been in a worse position," he remarked. Pakistan's four-pronged pace attack failed to restrict Sri Lanka who amassed 528 in its first innings. "We didn't bowl at the right spot," Younis said, denying he missed experienced Saqlain Mushtaq, who was surprisingly left out for the match. Pakistan coach Mudassar Nazar refused to accept Pakistan played weaker opponents before taking on Sri Lanka. "I wouldn't call West Indies weaker opponents, it's one of those things and defeat always leave you disappointed," Nazar said. "We must go on and prepare for the matches ahead." Pakistan hosts New Zealand for a series of two Tests and three One-day games in April-May.

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