Final Test begins today:
Cynosure of all eyes
CRICKET: Two outstanding Sri Lankan cricketers Muttiah
Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara will be the cynosure of all eyes when
the third and final Test match against Bangladesh starts underway at the
Asgiriya International Stadium in Kandy today.
Champion off spinner Muralitharan and dynamic left hander Sangakkara
will be performing on their home turf and will be quite anxious to make
it a memorable outing. In addition both players are approaching a
personal milestones having played a major role in the two previous Test
Sri Lanka of course are pressing for a three nil clean sweep and also
for their tenth successive victory against the minnows of Test cricket.
They won the first Test by an innings and 234 runs at the SSC grounds
and the second Test by an innings and 90 runs at the P. Saravanamuttu
Stadium with both matches ending well inside four days.
Sangakkara is of course now batting even more freely having got rid
of the burden of keeping wickets a job which has been accepted by
Prasanna Jayawardena. Altogether the Sri Lankan batting has been quite
consistent throughout the series with the entire top order striking
Sri Lanka who experimented with a new opening combination of Michael
van Dort and Malinda Warnapura are likely to retain the same pair for
the Test although regular opening batsman Upul Tharanga has fully
recovered from an injury.
In fact van Dort scored a fluent century in the opening Test while
Warnapura came closer of reaching his maiden century in the second Test.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardena who is averaging 88 runs in the current
series will be determined to produce another good batting performance.
Another reason for Sri Lanka’s success in the series has been the
variety of their bowling attack where wickets have been shared by the
fast bowlers and the spinners. Muralitharan is of course ahead with a
tally of 14 wickets at an average of 14.28.
But the most significant fact is the three fast bowlers who have
performed equally well in this series which has created a competition
among themselves. Opening bowler Lasith Malinga (9 wickets) is slightly
ahead while Dilhara Fernando (8 wickets) and Chaminda Vaas (6 wickets)
have also stuck to their task.
However with Vaas out of action Sri Lanka will be forced to make a
change with new comer Sujeewa de Silva and Farveez Maharoof both in
contention. Maharoof with his all round potential will have a slight
edge but certainly a final decision will only be taken shortly before
the start of the match.
Tharanga, Maharoof and Sujeewa in
Chairman, National Selection Committee, Asantha de Mel yesterday
confirmed that opener Upul Tharanga, allrounder Farveez Maharoof and
left arm paceman Sujeewa de Silva will make it to the final 11 of the
Sri Lanka team in place of Malinda Warnapura, Dilhara Fernando and
Bangladesh will be hoping to produce an improved performance
following repeated first innings failures where they were shot out for
just 89 runs and 62 runs which is their lowest total in Test cricket.
They are no doubt concerned about their performances in the last two
games and will be hoping to at least stretch the match into the full
five days which they have failed in all nine outings against the Lankans.
Bangladesh of course managed to score 254 and 299 in the second
innings of the two Tests to raise their hopes that all is not lost
against one of the most formidable attacks in world cricket. In fact
Ashraful and teenager Mushfiqur Rahim batted well in the second Test by
putting on a record partnership of 191 for the sixth wicket,
Bangladesh’s best ever in the 48 Tests they have played so far.
Ashraful made an unbeaten 129, his fourth Test century and the third
against Sri Lanka, while the 18-year-old Rahim hit 80 in a splendid
rearguard action at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium.
But Bangladesh have been let down by the poor performance of the two
senior players former captain Habibul Bashar and left arm spinner
The teams from:
Mohammed Ashraful (captain), Mashrafe Mortaza, Habibul Bashar, Javed
Omer, Mehrab Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Rajin Saleh, Shakib Al Hasan,
Khaled Mashud, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Mohammed Rafique, Abdur
Razzak, Mohammed Sharif, Mushfiqur Rahim.
Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Michael van Dort, Kumar Sangakkara,
Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Farveez
Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando,
Malinga Bandara, Malinda Warnapura, Sujeewa de Silva.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen and Suresh Shastri.
Match Referee: Jeff Crow.