Lanka wary of India's backlash in second Test

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 16:01 [IST]
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Galle: Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene says his team is well-prepared for India's expected fightback in the second Test starting on Thursday.

The hosts outplayed India in all departments of the game in the opening match of the three-Test series in Colombo, winning by an innings and 239 runs on Saturday.

"I am sure they are very disappointed after the first Test, but we know how good they are. They will definitely come very strong at us and we have to be prepared for that," Jayawardene told reporters here Wednesday.

"We asked them some questions (in the first Test) and they did not have the answers. We will have to find out whether they now have the answers. If they have, we will start asking different questions."

Jayawardene said Sri Lanka were determined to clinch the series here and would likely retain the side that won in Colombo.

"That (wrapping up the series) is definitely the plan. We are confident with the win we had the other day. It's important that we secure the series win. We will be going in the same frame of mind - that is to win," he said.

"We will probably play the same team."

Sri Lanka owed their victory to spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mandis, who shared 19 wickets to spark India's two collapses. The tourists could manage just 223 and 138.

Jayawardene said spin would again play a key role.

"When you have two quality spinners, they will definitely try and play a big part. But we also want to create more opportunities with our pacemen as well, if possible," he said.

"Chaminda Vaas is a quality paceman, but he couldn't come into the game in the first match. He has taken most of his wickets in these conditions and if we can get him into the party as well, it will be very good for us."

Vaas could bowl just 10 overs in Colombo as the Sri Lankan spin duo did the bulk of bowling to complete the win with more than a day to spare.

Mendis was a revelation as he took eight wickets in his debut Test to provide valuable support to Muralitharan, the world's leading wicket-taker with 746 scalps in 121 Tests.

"We just want him (Mendis) to continue to do that. He is a guy who likes to challenge himself and we have given him the freedom," he said.

"With Mendis bowling, Murali is much more comfortable because he does not have to do all the work by himself."

The Galle International Stadium is a happy hunting ground for Sri Lanka, who have lost just one of their last nine Tests here since July 2000.

It is also one of the favourite venues for Jayawardene, who averages 99.21 in 12 Tests here.

"I have enjoyed batting in all conditions. It is always a challenge for me, but I have a particular liking for SSC (Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo) and Galle because of the fans and atmosphere," Jayawardene said.

"Yes, I have a good track record here, but it does not give you anything on the morning of the match. It is all about how you perform on the day against the opposition. That's how I go about it."

India have task cut out against Murali-Mendis: The demoralised India after a demoralising defeat in the first Test at SSC, have a huge task cut out in mending the mystical Mendis and old horse Murali as they go into the must-win second Test 'morrow with the reputation of their much vaunted batting line-up at stake.

The clueless visitors got little time to regroup and work out a definite strategy to deal with the deadly spin twin.

Apart from the poor batting display, the Indian bowling and fielding also left much to be desired in Colombo and it will need a vastly improved performance from Anil Kumble and his men to keep themselves afloat in the three-match series.

The pressure, no doubt, will be on the batsmen who surrendered meekly to the spinners in the last game which was quite shocking considering their experience and reputation of playing spin bowling.

It will be a real test of character for the Fab-Four - Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman - who have more than a combined 35,000 Test runs under their belts and obviously are under tremendous pressure to prove a point or two.

The India team management planning to draft in Pragyan Ojha at the expense of batsman to strengthen the spin department on a spinner-friendly Galle strip.


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