India axe Karthik, bring in Parthiv for third Test

August 7th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Rex Clementine
Colombo, Aug 7 (IANS) India have decided to drop wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik for the series deciding third and final Test Match against the Sri Lankans that starts on Friday here at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. Karthik, whose glove work and batting have been poor in the series, will be replaced by Parthiv Patel (23), who plays his 20th Test Match for his country.

Similarly the Sri Lankans also will make just one change with medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekara replaced by either left-armer Thilan Tushara Mirando or the uncapped Dhammika Prasad, a decision they have left for the morning of the Test Match.

The hosts were toying with the idea of dropping opener Michael Van Dort, who has also struggled with scores of 3, 4 and 10 in three innings. But on captain Mahela Jayawardene’s insistence, Sri Lanka selectors agreed to give the batsman an extended run.

“We had a chat with Michael and there should not be any undue pressure on him because he was batting well before the Galle Test. Michael should concentrate only on things that are under his control and go on. I know he’s capable of doing that. The only way Michael can answer his critics is with his bat and he’s good enough to do that. If he comes good that’s fine and if he doesn’t come good that’s also fine. Cricketers go through these things,” Jayawardene said backing his opener.

Van Dort is not the only player struggling as India’s middle order has had a torrid time in Sri Lanka. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have all the experience in the world, but in this series, between the four of them, they have only managed just one fifty by Laxman.

India captain Anil Kumble said that the four batsmen were too good to go through an extended period of bad form. He was glad that India were able to square the series with the four leading players not getting many runs and warned the Sri Lankans that it’ll be tough for them when they get going.

“That’s a great thing. Without them getting runs we have won a Test match pretty comfortably. I am not worried. If they score runs, just imagine how things will be,” Kumble said.

The threat posed by Sri Lanka’s freak spinner Ajantha Mendis has caught the Indians off guard in the series. While some of them have been completely outfoxed by the Sri Lankan, others have been reluctant to take on the spinner and after creating unwanted pressure have fallen to the other Sri Lankan bowlers. Tendulkar for example was picked up by Chaminda Vaas on both instances in Galle while Muttiah Muralitharan had the better of the star batsman in Colombo dismissing him on both instances.

Jayawardene was thrilled with the new prodigy and admitted that he himself has been surprised by his success so early in his career.

It’s a definite advantage to have Ajantha. His presence has given us another striking option. When we saw him first, we knew that we needed to develop him in the right manner. We thought that he might take more time to settle in at the international level as he hadn’t played much first class cricket. But his success has been amazing. He has surprised a lot of people including some of us,” Jayawardene said.

India have played two Test Matches at the Saravanamuttu Stadium, the venue of country’s first ever Test Match way back in 1982. Their first Test in 1985 was a bitter experience as they were the victims when Sri Lanka recorded their first ever Test win while the next Test in 1983 was a tame draw.

The wicket at Saravanamuttu Stadium is considered a sporting wicket and is the quickest in the country. India’s seam bowler Ishant Sharma, who ripped through the Sri Lankan top order with three crucial wickets in the second innings in Galle, is expected to play a key role here and it was the state of the wicket that forced the Sri Lankans to opt for a quicker bowler instead of Kulasekara.

It looks a good wicket with a bit of grass on it. I am sure it will help our faster bowlers. It looks a good surface,” Kumble said.

However, the focus will be on Tendulkar, who needs 101 more runs to overtake Brian Lara as the most run scorer in Tests. While a Tendulkar hundred will get him to the milestone, it will also help India to consolidate their position in the series.

Sri Lanka (from): Malinda Warnapura, Michael Van Dort, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Thilan Samaraweera, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Tushara Mirando and Dhammika Prasad.

India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V. V. S. Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (RSA) and Mark Benson (Eng)
Television Referral umpire: Billy Doctrove (WI)
Third Umpire: T.H. Wijewardene (SL)
Match Referee: Alan Hurst (AUS)

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