Wounded England look to square Lanka series

Published: Saturday, December 8, 2007, 11:22 [IST]
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Colombo: England coach Peter Moores wants his team to be streetwise and aggressive as the tourists bid for a series-levelling win in the second Test against Sri Lanka starting on Sunday.

England lost the first Test in Kandy by 88 runs despite holding a first innings lead of 93 runs and failed to bat out an extra 30 minutes on the final day that could have drawn the match.

Moores said the lessons learnt from the Kandy Test will help them match the formidable home team during the second match at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), one of Sri Lanka's favourite hunting grounds.

"We have to be a bit more savvy, a bit more streetwise and find different ways of attacking," said Moores.

"We have got to be able to sustain periods of pressure for longer with both bat and ball and, if we do those things, then we can make it hard work for them.

"One of the worst things we could do is chase the game. If we create pressure there is some fragility there we can expose."

England will be inspired by their 2001 predecessors under Nasser Hussain who fought back after losing the first Test to win the next two and take the series 2-1.

England must choose between the experienced Steve Harmison and Test rookie Stuart Broad to replace frontline strike bowler Matthew Hoggard, who is an unlikely starter after the back injury sustained in Kandy.

The injury-prone Harmison missed the opening Test with back spasms, having just recovered from hernia surgery that forced him to prove his fitness playing first-class cricket in South Africa ahead of the Sri Lanka tour.

Sri Lanka have recalled 22-year-old opener Upul Tharanga to replace veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, who announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Kandy match.

Left-handed Tharanga, who played his last of his 13 Tests against Bangladesh in July, hit 112 and 86 in two practice matches against the tourists ahead of the first Test.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said the rest of the team will be unchanged, meaning the hosts will play three seamers to support record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

"The bowling combination will depend on the pitch but knowing the Sinhalese Sports Club it will probably be three seamers and Murali," said Jayawardene.

Sri Lanka have won 10 of their last 12 Tests at the SSC since losing to Hussain's Englishmen in 2001.

The last time England played here in 2003 under current captain Michael Vaughan, Sri Lanka coasted to victory by an innings and 215 runs with Muralitharan grabbing seven wickets in the match.

England have much to fear from Jayawardene and the prolific Kumar Sangakkara, whose match-winning 152 in Sri Lanka's second innings in Kandy took the match away from the tourists.

It was at the SSC in July last year that the Sri Lankan captain and his deputy compiled Test cricket's highest partnership of 624 runs against hapless South Africa with Jayawardene making 374 and Sangakkara 287.


England: Michael Vaughan (capt), Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Matthew Prior (wk), James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Monty Panesar, Steve Harmison and Stuart Broad.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Tharanga, Michael Vandort, Chamara Silva, Jehan Mubarak, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and Daryl Harper (Aus) Third umpire: Gamini Silva (SL). Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZ)


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