Sri Lanka aim to put pressure on India

Published: Thursday, August 7, 2008, 18:03 [IST]
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Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene says his team need to put pressure on a resurgent India in the crucial third and final Test starting here on Friday in a bid to maintain their impressive home record.

Sri Lanka have lost just one of their last seven home Test series since August 2004, the lone defeat coming against Pakistan two years ago.

The current series is tied at 1-1, with Sri Lanka winning the opening Test by an innings and 239 runs in Colombo and India coming back strongly to clinch a 170-run victory in the second match in Galle.

The Sri Lankan captain said his bowlers would look for early breakthroughs to keep pressure on the India's middle-order batsmen, who have yet to fire in the series.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir played key roles in India's win, adding 167 for the opening wicket in the first innings and 90 in the second. Sehwag was named man of the match for scoring an unbeaten 201 and 50.

"Sehwag batted really well and took his chances in Galle. India are getting some good starts and that is something we will think about," said Jayawardene.

"If we get early breakthroughs we can manage to keep the rest of their batsmen pretty quiet. If we keep that pressure on the top of the order we have a very good chance."

The Sri Lankan captain praised his spinners for keeping India's formidable middle-order batsmen under control in the two matches. Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis has grabbed 18 wickets and Muttiah Muralitharan 16.

Venkatsai Laxman is the only Indian middle-order batsman to have made a half-century in four innings, while Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly have yet to perform up to their potential.

"The credit should go to our bowlers as we kept a lot of pressure on them (middle-order batsmen). They had starts, but we still managed to get those wickets," said Jayawardene.

"The important thing is we keep pressure on the Indian batsmen. The thought of losing a home series has not gone through our minds.

"We played really good cricket in the first Test and fought well in Galle. We are now looking forward to this one and have to be positive with our approach. It is going to be an interesting one."

Sri Lanka will make one change from the team that played in Galle as they have left out paceman Nuwan Kulasekara, who could take just one wicket in two matches.

"We are leaving out Kulasekera, but have not made the choice between the two pacemen (Thilan Thushara and Dammika Prasad)," said Jayawardene.

India are set to name wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel in their playing eleven in place of Dinesh Karthik, who dropped a couple of crucial catches in the previous matches.

"The only possible change in the team is Patel coming in place of Karthik," India captain Anil Kumble said.

India have clinched just one Test series after being 1-0 down in the past seven years, but Kumble said his team was determined to do it again.

"In terms of confidence and strategy, we have done whatever we can to ensure we win the Test and series. That is the bottom line," he said.

"We did that against Australia at home in 2001 after being 1-0 down. All of us are looking forward to going home with the series win."

India will be without coach Gary Kirsten, who left on Tuesday for his native South Africa to be with his ailing mother.

"Gary will be missed," said Kumble.

"But we all realise our responsibilities as cricketers. Obviously we will sit down and discuss what needs to be done. We already have done most of it, and it will be good to finish the Test series on a winning note."

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