Monday, November 30, 2009

Sri Lanka to go 'all out' for victory

Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene has urged his team to go flat out in Wednesday's final Test against India at the Brabourne Stadium.

India crushed Sri Lanka by an innings and 144 runs in the second Test in Kanpur and are poised to go top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings if they win again in Mumbai.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side battled back from a massive first-innings deficit to draw the first Test in Ahmedabad and have a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

Former captain Jayawardene, however, has exhorted his teammates to ensure their goal of achieving a first Test victory in India is reached.

"Our goal when we came to India was to win our first Test here," Jayawardene wrote in a column. "But the reverse in Kanpur brings our goals into sharp focus.

"We now have to go all out to win the final Test in Mumbai and square the series.
"The way forward is to not think too much about the defeat or over-analyse what happened but to pick ourselves up and perform as a group."

Sri Lanka's decision to field three specialist spinners in Kanpur came in for severe criticism, but Jayawardene believes the collective failure of the batsmen led to defeat.

"We took a tough call with team composition and it did not work for us," Jayawardene said.

"Over the last couple of years our batting has been reliable and we had the men to put the runs on the board.

"It just didn't happen in Kanpur and this, rather than composition was why we lost."
Sri Lanka's fast bowlers Dammika Prasad and Nuwan Kulasekara are available for selection having recovered from minor injuries and showed no signs of discomfort as they, along with Dilhara Fernando, were put through an extended session in the nets.
Master spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has struggled on this tour, the world's leading bowler only managing five wickets at an average of 79.20.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara, however, has kept his faith in the off-spinner.
"He is still the best bowler that's played the game," Sangakkara said.
"You still have to have faith in him and trust him and back him 100% to do the job because he is going to do it at some point.

"Having said that, we could do with a bit more penetration with spin."
India will be without opener Gautam Gambhir but Dhoni believes his replacement - Tamil Nadu batsman Murali Vijay is expected to fill in - will step up to the plate.
"It is difficult to say how much the team will miss Gambhir," Dhoni said.
"We are a side that depends greatly on a good start and whoever opens with (Virender) Sehwag should be able to do that.

"Whenever Gambhir and Sehwag give us a good start, the run rate is pretty high and that makes it easier for the batsmen to follow."

India also have the option of opening with Rahul Dravid, their top scorer in the series so far, and could pick an extra bowler in Gambhir's place.

This is the first Test at the Cricket Club of India's home in over 36 years and 11 of the previous 17 matches here have ended in draws.

Milind Rege, secretary of the CCI, however, has promised a good wicket.
"There is a bit of moisture and that will help the bowlers in the first hour," Rege said.

"But it's a good wicket to bat on and it will assist spin on the fourth and fifth days. I expect a result."

Players spend time with underprivileged children

It turned out to be a memorable evening for underprivileged children from 'Make A Wish Foundation' as they got to spend some fun moments with members of the Indian and Sri Lankan cricket players here today.

The occasion was a fun fair at the G D Somani School in south Mumbai, organised by the Yuvraj Singh Foundation.

While Zaheer Khan, S Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha and Yuvraj were present from the Indian team, the Sri Lankan team was represented by skipper Kumar Sangakkara and ex-captain Mahela Jayawardene.

The children, many of them suffering from life threatening diseases, had to wait for over two hours from the scheduled time but the cricketers made up for the delay by handing them gifts of their choice, besides taking pictures with them.

"It's a great opportunity to make a few wishes of these kids possible," Yuvraj said on the occasion.

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