Jayawardene confident of Malinga~~s potential

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Birmingham:Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has named strike bowler Lasith Malinga in the 12-man squad for the second Test against England here at Edgbaston starting Thursday.

Malinga, a 22-year-old fast bowler with a distinctively low arm action took five wickets in the tourists' previous match, against Sussex.

And he could add extra firepower to an attack that made little impact in the drawn series opener at Lord's where England scored an imposing 551 for six declared in their only innings.

"He does offer us something different, different variety and everytime he plays he puts his hand up and says he wants to have a crack at the English," Jayawardene told reporters here Wednesday.

"It would be great to give him that opportunity," added Jayawardene of a bowler who has already taken who has taken 54 wickets in 15 Tests at a respectable 29.48.

"But it all depends upon what kind of combination we want to play on the Edgbaston wicket," explained Jayawardene ahead of the second leg of three-match series.

Malinga's 'slingshot' action makes him one of the most unusual pace bowlers currently around and Jayawardene, whose battling century was the centrepiece of Sri Lanka's 14-hour rearguard action at Lord's, said he was a tricky customer for even the most experienced batsman to face.

"He's quite difficult, especially with his action and the pace that he generates.

"He's very accurate now. Probably two years ago he was a bit wayward but he's disciplined himself and knows exactly the areas now where he has to bowl," Jayawardene added.

"He definitely can be a handful as international sides have realised."

But there was no place in the squad for former captain Sanath Jayasuriya, with Michael Vandort replacing dropped opener Jehan Mubarak instead.

Left-handed opener Jayasuriya, 36, only joined the squad during the Lord's Test having previously announced his retirement from the five-day game.

But Sri Lanka's recently installed chairman of selectors Asantha De Mel helped him change his mind and after the tourists were bowled out for 192 in their first innings it seemed like a shrewd move.

However, Jayasuriya did not feature in the Sussex match and Jaywardene said: "He was in contention but what we realised was that when we started this tour we decided on a youth policy and we told the young guys we would give them the necessary opportunities.

"If we don't do that it won't be nice. If somebody hadn't given me a chance when I was young I wouldn't be here now," explained Jayawardene, 29 on Saturday.

He added: "The chairman of selectors has spoken to Tom Moody (the Sri Lanka coach and former Australia international).

"When he (De Mel) sent Sanath over he told him (Moody) you don't necessarily have to play him, he's just another option. If we want to use him we will.

"As a captain, Sanath gives me more options and with his experience he will definitely help the young guys, that is what he wants to do. He's a good guy, he's brilliant in the dressing-room and anyway he would have joined us for the one-dayers (a five-match series after the Tests)."

For all Sri Lanka's heroics in London, they were outplayed for the first two days of the opening Test and Jayawardene stressed: "We are disappointed because although it was a fantastic fightback I want our guys to compete every day, not just the first two days.

"But we are still on level par, so that is excellent. When we left Sri Lanka with a very young side, expectations were very low.

"But now there's a lot of excitement. That's what Sri Lankan cricket is all about. They (the fans) are very passionate, they love the game and they really want us to do well."

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