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Pollock returns to boost Proteas in second Test

Published: Wednesday, August 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Colombo:South Africa's veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock returns for the second Test against Sri Lanka with a war cry to teammates to rise from despair and defeat.

The 33-year-old missed the first Test, which Sri Lanka won by an innings and 153 runs, to be by wife Trish's side for the birth of their second daughter.

Pollock, who needs six wickets to become the first South African to join the 400-club, said he was raring to play and lend the necessary experience in the absence of the injured Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

"We can either wallow or swallow," he told reporters. "Wallow in self-pity or swallow the bitter bill and get on with it.

"One should not think too much about what happened. There is one Test left and not much time before it starts.

"You should draw a line through the previous performance and look ahead."

Sri Lanka's big win in the first Test was built around captain Mahela Jayawardene's brilliant 374, his world record stand of 624 with Kumar Sangakkara (287), and Muttiah Muralitharan's 10-wicket haul.

But Pollock believed the defeat at the Sinhalese sports club was not without its silver lining.

"There were some positive aspects," he said. "We had them two wickets down for 20 runs, it could have been three for 30. Then, we could have put some pressure on their inexperienced middle order.

"Take away Muralitharan and the rest of the Sri Lankan bowlers would have struggled to take wickets on the slow track," he said.

Pollock, a veteran of 101 Tests, said he was geared for a tough contest at the Sara Oval and believed his side could fight back.

"From all reports we've heard, the wicket for the second Test is going to be even lower and slower than it was for the first Test," he said. "But there's no point dwelling on the negatives. We just have to get on with it.

"Test cricket on the sub-continent can be the opposite of the way it is at home, where a team can be 100-5 half way through the first day, both teams are dismissed by the end of day two and then the wicket becomes flat.

"But here the 'flat' part comes first. We need to prepare ourselves for a hard, patient fight going right down to the final session on day five."

With Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn likely to share the new ball, Pollock will be the stock bowler required to keep one end tight -- something nobody managed to do in the first Test.

"It's going to be even more of a holding role than usual but that's fine," he said. "From a bowling perspective, having a batsman caught at cover is just the same as caught at slip. It doesn't really matter."

Pollock, who has scored 3,444 Test runs at an average of 31.59 with two centuries, is also expected to prop up the middle-order.

The former captain, whose father Peter and uncle Graeme are household names in South African cricket, said retirement had not yet crossed his mind.

"I still enjoy every moment of my cricket," he said. "It is hard to leave one's family at home, but I still enjoy the game as much as I ever did.

"The day when I don't enjoy it, it will be time to pack up and retire."

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