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25-Jul-2010 15:34:00 GMT
Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, Colombo

India Look to Bounce Back in 2nd Test

Colombo: Still licking the wound of a 10-wicket mauling in Galle, a jittery India go into the second Test against Sri Lanka starting on Monday with their status as world number one team at stake.

The visitors were outplayed in all departments of the game in the first match and they risk being dislodged from their ICC top ranking, besides surrendering the three-match series, if they lose the second Test at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.

A 2-0 or 3-0 series scoreline in Sri Lanka's favour will remove India from the perch and lift the hosts to the top spot.

India can regain their top ranking if they win the third Test starting on August 3 at P Sara Oval as a 1-2 series loss will keep them safe at the perch.

A loss in the second Test will also mean that India continue their 17-year-old jinx of not winning a Test series in Sri Lanka after Mohammad Azharuddin-led side's feat in 1993.

Indian captain Dhoni has said that lack of experience in the pace attack and failure to build partnerships while batting have cost his side the first Test.

"We lacked experience in bowling. It was a learning experience for the seamers, but they did a decent job. We did not have big partnerships while batting. Once you lose your top six or seven batsmen and if you don't have too many runs on the board it becomes very difficult," Dhoni had said after the first Test.

With the pace bowling resources severely depleted in the absence of strike bowler Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth, the onus is now on the batting stars to perform and pile up runs if the visitors are to bounce back in the three-match series.

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh were among the runs in the first Test but their performances were not enough to prevent a 10-wicket defeat to Kumar Sangakkara's men.

The Indian batsmen will be relieved by the absence of Muttiah Muralitharan, who bowed out of Test cricket at Galle after becoming the first bowler to claim 800 wickets, and the injury to fast bowler Lasith Malinga.

But carrom ball bowler Ajantha Mendis, who was not in the first Test squad but has returned now, can be a handful as he had done well for Sri Lanka Board President's XI in the warm-up game with a six for 67.

Mendis had tormented India in their last tour of the island nation in 2008 when he grabbed 26 wickets in Sri Lanka's 2-1 Test series victory.

Besides the lack of sting in the pace attack, India's spin department also got a battering from the Sri Lankan batsmen in the first Test with their most experienced bowler Harbhajan Singh and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha returning wicketless in their 30 and 28 overs respectively.

Harbhajan, who was not 100 per cent fit in the first Test, has apparently recovered fully after his bout of flu and he is expected to lead the spin bowling charge though it is not certain whether leggie Amit Mishra will replace Ojha in the playing eleven.

Sri Lanka named another pacer Nuwan Pradeep in place of Malinga though he is not expected to be in the playing XI on Monday as Dilhara Fernando is likly to share the new ball with Chanaka Welegedara. Angelo Mathews is expected to be the third seamer in the playing eleven.

Sangakkara was confident the absence of Muralitharan and Malinga, who claimed 15 of the 20 Indian wickets between them, will not impact on his team's bowling attack.

"We have bowlers who are looking for a chance to make a mark for themselves. This is their opportunity to prove themselves," said Sangakkara.

The home side batsmen are in fine nick with their top order of Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene coming good in either one of the two innings in the first Test. He returns to his favourite venue. He averages 79.58 in 22 Tests at the SSC. His prolific run at the ground began against India, when he scored 242 in the Asian Test Championship in 1999.

Harbhajan Singh leading an inexperienced bowling attack has been a huge responsibility to bear, and that has been made harder by Sri Lanka's formidable batting line-up. Sri Lanka have handled Harbhajan better than most, and more so in home conditions, but the extra bounce expected at the SSC could add a bit more potency to his bowling.

Team news

Sri Lanka
Dilhara Fernando is likely to replace Malinga, while Mendis takes Murali's place. Sri Lanka have two other pace options in Dammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep who didn't feature in the first Test.

Squad from Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Mahela Jayawardene (vice-capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Nuwan Pradeep, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Suraj Randiv, Thilina Kandamby, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Tharanga Paranavitana, Dammika Prasad, Thilan Samaraweera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chanaka Welegedara.

India's captain MS Dhoni, said Gautam Gambhir has a niggle in the knee and the team would take a final call on him in the evening or Monday morning. He also hinted at a 3-1 pace-spin bowling combination if they want to bowl first, suggesting Munaf Patel was in with a chance. If India decide to bat, he said they could go in with two seamers and two spinners.

Squad from MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag (vice-capt), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay.

Pitch and conditions
Dhoni said the pitch was greener than the one in Galle and expected more bounce. There is a possibility of thunderstorms on the first four days of the Test, though amid similar forecasts in Galle the weather held firm for the bulk of the game, long enough to produce a result.

Stats and trivia

  • India's previous two games at the SSC both ended in innings defeats. Their only win here came in 1993, the last time they won a Test series in Sri Lanka.
  • The team batting first has lost nine out of 19 games played at the SSC in the last ten years, and won six.
  • Virender Sehwag has scored the most runs among Indian batsmen against Ajantha Mendis - 113 off 112 balls without being dismissed. Mendis has had the most success against VVS Laxman, dismissing him five times and averaging 20. He has also dismissed Rahul Dravid on four occasions.
  • In 13 matches not involving Muttiah Muralitharan since 2000, Sri Lanka have won five games, lost four and drawn four. The most recent were against Pakistan in July last year.

Match facts
July 26-30, 2010
Start time 10:00 local (04:30 GMT), 10am IST

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