Preparations for third Test distracted by SLPL


Rex Clementine
reporting from Pallekele

Sri Lanka’s preparations for the third Test against Pakistan have been severely distracted due to the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) player auction that took place immediately after the second Test in Colombo resulting in players arriving in Kandy late for the third and final Test at Pallekele International Stadium that gets underway today.

Instead of debating about the best way to counter the awkward angle Junaid Khan creates coming round the wicket with the older ball, Sri Lanka’s top brass has been busy bargaining and discussing the merits and demerits of cricketers at Taj Samudra.

Four senior players involved in the player auction arrived late in Kandy at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday and although the team trained on Saturday morning, captain Mahela Jayawardene’s scheduled media briefing Saturday afternoon was cancelled as he was suffering from a headache.

Several players have also been anxious ahead of the player auction wondering whether they would get picked or not, jeopardising preparations ahead of the final Test.

"We are all professionals and we know what we have to do to prepare ourselves for a game. It is not going to be a distraction for us," Sri Lanka vice-captain Angelo Mathews told journalists at Pallekele yesterday.

Sri Lanka are searching for their first series win in Test cricket in three years and with the team already 1-0 up in the three match series a draw would be sufficient for them to wrap up the series.

Pakistan’s training session yesterday, meanwhile, was affected by rain. Rain is expected to feature predominantly during the final Test as it has been the case earlier in the series when the two teams were here for the ODIs.

Of all grounds in the country, seam bowlers get the most help at Pallekele and with that in mind, Pakistan were contemplating on brining fast bowler Mohammad Sami in place of one of the batsmen. If Sami returns to the side, Asad Shafiq is expected to be left out. Left-arm seamer Junaid Khan impressed during the second Test bowling expertly with the old ball and Pakistan expect him to play a key role in the third Test.

"Junaid bowled really well on a good track and gave us a chance of putting the opposition in trouble most of the time," Pakistan opener Mohammad Hafeez told journalists.



Sri Lanka (From): Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Angelo Mathews, T. M. Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavithana, 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: Ranmore Martinez (SL)

Match Referee: David Boon (Aus).

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