An improved performance needed for today's game - Mahela
CRICKET: With the series and the Hero Honda trophy at stake a high
voltage battle is on the hands when Sri Lanka take on India in the
fourth and deciding one day international at the Indira Priyadarshani
Stadium in Vishakapatnam here on Saturday.
Both teams are expected to put their best foot forward for this
crunch game with the coastal town in Andra Pradesh hosting a one day
international after a lapse of six years.
The temperature here hovers around 31 degrees but the stiff cross
breeze makes the burning sun touch kinder. The Lankans of course have
sweet memories at this venue having edged out Pakistan by 12 runs in a
Pepsi Cup one day international in 1998.
The Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena will certainly remember
that game having made a splendid 101which earned him the man of the
match award. His innings is still the fourth highest individual score at
this venue and Sri Lanka's score of 253 for 8 in that game is also the
fifth highest team total here.
Even then this time he will be hoping for an improved performance
from his side after going down to India by five wickets in the third one
dayer in Margao on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka will be hoping that their explosive openers Sanath
Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga would return to form.
The veteran Jayasuriya did show glimpse of his destructive
batsmanship in the rain affected first match in Kolkata while blasting
an unbeaten half century.
But in the next two outings Jayasuriya has failed to deliver the
goods and the Lankans are very much concerned with Tharanga also not
getting many runs under his belt. No doubt the depth in their batting
line up has ensured that they could reach a competitive total.
However skipper Jayawardena will be quite eager to see his opening
combination get their side off to a flying start.
The wicket is promising to have enough bounce for the medium pacemen
but it is a good wicket to bat on. The bowlers especially the medium
pacemen will be able to extract a fare amount of pace and bounce but a
score of above 250 runs should be a match winning total.
This will be a great boost to India's Zaheer Khan who should again
prove to be a handful for the Lankans having returned career best
figures of five wickets for 42 runs in the previous game.
The Sri Lankan fast bowlers Lasith Malinga, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara
Fernando and Nuwan Kulasekera will also be quite eager to have a go at
the Indian top order on this beautiful track which is surrounded by a
lush green cover.
Meanwhile Indian team sources today revealed that Sachin Tendulkar
will not take part in the final one-dayer against Sri Lanka at
Vishakapatnam due to a stiff back.
However, the injury to Tendulkar, who wasn't part of the squad that
arrived in Vishakhapatnam is considered serious and he will rest in
Mumbai so that he can recover in time for the World Cup.
India already have injury worries over pacemen Irfan Pathan,
Sreesanth and Ajit Agarkar and spinner Anil Kumble. In fact Pathan is
almost ruled out of the clash as well and it is unlikely that he will
Agarkar missed the first two matches with a bout of flu and looked
flat in the third game at Goa. Yuvraj Singh is also easing his way back
into the team from a three-month lay-off after rupturing his knee
ligament. He had a stiff back, too, and missed the first two one-dayers
played in Kolkata and Rajkot.
Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Kumar Sangakkara,
Russel Arnold, Marvan Atapattu, Malinga Bandara, Upul Chandana,
Tillekeratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya, Nuwan
Kulasekera, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga and Chamara Silva.
India (from): Rahul Dravid (captain), Ajit Agarkar, Mahendra Singh
Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Zaheer Khan,
Anil Kumble, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, S. Sreesanth,
Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh.