Second Test against Kiwis begins at the SSC today :
Sri Lanka likely to go in with three spinners
The Sri Lankans are contemplating playing three spinners against New
Zealand in the Second and final Test beginning at the Sinhalese Sports
Club ground today.The wicket at the SSC tends to become spin friendly as
the game progresses and this would have prompted the final team
selectors, captain Kumar Sangakkara and coach Trevor Bayliss to think
about playing three spinners.
Their selection job has been made although the more easy because
allrounder Angelo Mathews has still not fully recovered from the injury
he picked up in the Galle Test.
With Mathews likely to be benched, left arm leg spinner Rangana
Herath who was unlucky to miss the Galle Test after his heroics against
Pakistan, will partner spin twins Muttiah Muralitheran and Ajantha
Mendis and form a terrible spinning threesome.
The Lankans when they take the field today will do so with a certain
amount of pride. And that pride stems from the fact that they are now
second in the International Cricket Councilís Test rankings. The
Australians who lost the final Test to England by 197 runs at the Oval
on Sunday and with it the treasured Ashes made it possible for the
Lankans to grab that spot. Another win will see them consolidate that
The wicket at the SSC is known to play easy early on and help the
batsmen and then become spin friendly.
This was proved during the Pakistan, Sri Lanka Test played recently
where a lot of runs were made and the bowlers too had a chance of
getting into the picture. It is important for the team winning the toss
to bat first without any hesitation. Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori won the
toss in Galle and gifted the Test to the Sri Lankans by inviting the
home team to strike first. Obviously he was fooled by the slight
moisture on the wicket.
Granted that the Kiwis got two early wickets. That of Tharanga
Paranvitharne and skipper Kumar Sangakkara.
But that early success had nothing to with the wicket. It was due to
poor shot making. And that the Kiwi bowlers could not ram home that
early advantage speaks poorly for their lack of sting in their bowling.
After the initial loss, batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardena
and Thilan Samaraweera made merry on a perfect batting pitch and made
the Kiwis chase leather in hot and humid conditions that were not to
Dilshan made devastating knocks of 92 and 123 not out, while
Jayawardena and Samaraweera made classy centuries which were examples to
the Kiwi batsmen who were always struggling on a wicket that was playing
Pity that Dilshan could not make twin centuries in his first attempt
of facing the new ball in a Test as an opener. The captain calling
correctly in this Test must bat. Not to do so would be to hand over the
advantage to the other side and be at the receiving end for the rest of
The Lankans will fire all cylinders to shoot down the Kiwis stuff
them, enjoy and celebrate being second to the Australians in the world
of Test cricket, which is what the game is all about.
The Lankans who fielded their best combination in the First Test are
oozing with confidence. The batsmen did well to mount a big score and
the bowlers, Thusara Mirando,Nuwan Kulasekera and the spin twins Muttiah
Muralitheran and Ajantha Mendis struck telling blows to blow out the
Kiwis. The Kiwi batsmen were clueless against the two spinners.
Getting down of former Pakistan spin champion Saqlain Mushtaq to show
them how to read Muralitheranís doosra was a lost cause, because they
could not read Muralitheran at all. Reports have it that the Kiwis who
suffered in Galle have all recovered and unless their top batsmen such
as McIntosh, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCallum and Daniel
Vettori make big runs they are doomed again.Vettorio was the only one to
bat with purpose making good scores in both innings.
As for the Kiwi bowling, other than for Vettori again, the other
bowlers look ordinary. Off spinner Jeetan Patel is just up and down
stuff and has no variation and lacks the ability to work batsmen out
So over then to the SSC and a Lankan victory that would help them to
savour their second slot in the ICC Test rankings.