Confident Sri Lanka, with a spring in its feet after the thumping victory in Galle, takes on a demoralised Pakistan in the second Test at the Sinhalese Sports Grounds here from Saturday.
The settings can’t be any more perfect for Sri Lanka to seal the first Test win in the post-Muralitharan era: a team in form, a ground that its captain Mahela Jayawardene would carry anywhere around if he had the chance, a bickering opponent and bright, sunny skies. Sri Lanka last lost in this ground was in 2004.
Jayawardene insists that he always plays for a win.
“Even charity matches I want to win. Playing safe has never been part of my plan,” he admitted candidly.
Any Sri Lanka-Pakistan encounter is billed as a battle of Sri Lanka’s batsmen versus Pakistan’s bowlers.
“We have won this battle until now,” Jayawardene said, pointing to the series victory in the one-day series, and the win at Galle.
He added that Misbah-ul-Haq coming back after the one-Test ban was a “factor that Sri Lanka had to counter.”
Misbah was clear why his team had lost the last match: when a team let the opposition score over 500 runs, it is almost out of the game.
The teams (from): Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, T. Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene (wicketkeeper), Dilhara Fernando, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekera, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Jeewan Mendis.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain) Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Afaq Raheem, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Adnan Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Ayub.
Umpires: Ian Gould and Simon Taufel.
Keywords: Pakistan's tour of Sri Lanka