Murali-less Sri Lanka aim for hat-trick in Pakistan

Published: Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Faisalabad:Sri Lanka must overcome the absence of talismanic spinner Muttiah Muralitharan if they are to achieve a rare hat-trick of wins in Pakistan here as the two-Test series gets under way.

Muralitharan, with 532 Test wickets, played a starring role in Sri Lanka's previous two victories in Test series in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka notched a 2-1 win in 1995 with Muralitharan taking 15 wickets followed by another 26 when the Islanders won again by a 2-1 margin in 2000.

When Sri Lanka won the Asian Test championship final in 2002, Muralitharan was again the star with eight wickets in the match.

"Of course, missing Muralitharan is a big loss but by winning the final of the tri-series we have shown what we are capable of and can achieve good results with the available resources," said Sri Lankan captain Marvan Atapattu.

Muralitharan is recuperating from a shoulder injury and is not on tour.

"The last Test we won against South Africa in August was without Muralitharan because the guys pulled themselves up and I hope they remembered that," Sri Lanka's skipper said.

Atapattu led Sri Lanka to a whopping 119-run victory over Pakistan to lift the One-day cup last Saturday and now is urging his team to finish the job in the Test series.

"Winning the One-day series was fantastic but Test cricket is altogether different ball game so we now need to focus on that because it's a matter of doing well on all five days," said Atapattu, whose side lost all three Tests at home to Australia in March this year.

They also lost one of the two Tests in Australia before winning the two-match home series 1-0 against South Africa.

"We want to prove that we can win outside Sri Lanka and a hat-trick of Test series wins over Pakistan would be fantastic," said Atapattu, whose side shows five changes from the One-day series.

Experienced left-arm pacer Chaminda Vaas will be supplemented by two upcoming pacers in Lasith Malinga and Farveez Maharoof while the spin attack has off-spinner Thilan Samaraweera, leg-spinner Upul Chandana and left-armer Rangana Herath.

Pakistan has strengthened its spin bowling by recalling leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and are hoping express pacer Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami can return to their wicket-taking best.

"We need to lift ourselves in the bowling department because you need to take 20 wickets of the opponents to win a Test," said Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Inzamam accepted Muralitharan's absence would give the home team an advantage.

"Muralitharan is a world class bowler and his record in Pakistan speaks volumes for itself, but Sri Lanka has won against South Africa and against us in the tri-series without Muralitharan," said Inzamam.

Pakistan has also recalled regular opener Imran Farhat after leaving him out in One-dayers and Test specialist Asim Kamal who may bat at the crucial number three spot.

Teams (from):

Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Asim Kamal, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan, Zulqarnain Haider, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naveedul Hassan, Danish Kaneria, Riaz Afridi

Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Jehan Mubarak, Ian Daniel, Thilina Kandamby, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Upul Chandana, Chaminda Vaas, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath

Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL), Steve Bucknor (WIS)

ICC match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)

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