Will Pakistan’s unbeaten run end at the SSC?June 29, 2012, 9:01 pm
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka will be hoping that their recent impressive run at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground continues, as they look to secure their first Test series win since 2009.
The second Test between the countries begins today at the SSC with Sri Lanka 1-0 up in the series, following their comprehensive win in Galle.
The hosts have not lost a Test match at the SSC since going down to Australia in 2004. In fact, defeat to Ricky Ponting’s world champions has been Sri Lanka’s only blemish at the SSC during the last 10 years, where they have won 12 of the 18 games played, with five matches ending in draws.
Sri Lanka may have an impressive record at the SSC, but so does Pakistan, who have never tasted defeat at this venue. Pakistan have played four Test matches at the SSC and have drawn three and won one, with the victory coming when an angry Wasim Akram starred with both bat and ball to win Man of the Match award, in 2000. Current Pakistan coach, Dav Whatmore was Sri Lankan’s coach on that occasion.
"One of the Test matches when I was with Sri Lanka was against Pakistan in 2000 where they beat us and went onto win the series. They beat us by bowling really well, with pace. Yes, Sri Lanka have a very good record here, but this is a different game and we are just keen to come back and play as hard as we can," Whatmore told journalists, yesterday.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene felt that putting big totals on the board will enable his side to put pressure on the tourists. "Throughout the series, we felt that they have a good bowling unit. A lot of papers had said that this series is about our batting against their bowling. We have won that battle up to now. We feel that if we get the runs on the board, we can put their batting under pressure."
For Pakistan, captain Misbah-ul-Haq returns to the side after his suspension for maintaining a slow overrate during the fifth ODI at the R. Premadasa Stadium. "Misabah is an experienced guy and he is a very calm character. That’s a fact that we have to counter, but it’s not about individuals, we are playing Pakistan and we need to see how we get that advantage," Jayawardene added.
Misbah, meanwhile, refused to blame Pakistan’s batting, which collapsed to 100 runs all out in the first innings in Galle, and stressed the need for a disciplined effort with the ball as well.
"Batting obviously is an issue, but before that when you let someone score nearly 500 runs, you are always under pressure and you are almost out of the game. We have to consider that fact as well from a bowling point of view. It’s really important that for any team to win, that you need to take 20 wickets. We have to just improve our bowling as well," Misbah said.
Dilhara Fernando, who has been drafted into the squad in place of the inured Chanaka Welagedara, is likely to play if Sri Lanka opts to rest Nuwan Pradeep, who shared the new ball with Nuwan Kulasekara, in Galle.
Sri Lanka: (From) Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Angelo Mathews, T.M. Dilshan, Tharanga Parnavithana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dilhara Fernando, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera and Jeevan Mendis.
Pakistan (From): Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Afaq Raheem, Mohammad Ayub and Aizaz Cheema.
Umpires: Steve Davis (Aus) and Simon Taufel (Aus)
Third Umpire: Ruchira Palliyaguru (SL)
Match Referee: David Boon (Aus).
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Last Updated May 18 2013 | 05:06 pm