India to field unchanged team in the second Test at Galle (Preview)

July 30th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Rex Clementine
Galle (Sri Lanka), July 30 (IANS) After humiliating defeat in the first Test, the Indians are bracing themselves for another tough challenge in the second of the three-match series against the Sri Lankans, starting here Thursday. Located at the heart of the coastal city, south of the island, with the Indian ocean on either side of the ground and the 18th Century Dutch Fort as the backdrop, the venue is one of the picturesque cricket grounds in the world. More importantly, a stronghold for the hosts.

The Sri Lankans have won six of their 12 Tests and three of them by an innings margin and India’s task to square the series is really challenging as the hosts have done exceptionally well on this ground.

However, Indian captain Anil Kumble insisted that his side has got the strength to bounce back after the severe beating in Colombo and promised the Indian fans a better show in the second Test.

“I have complete faith in my team. We had a thorough assessment of what happened in Colombo and I have faith in my batting line-up to bounce back after a disappointing start to the series. This unit of players have achieved greater things for India and we are capable of coming back strong. We will approach this game in a positive manner,” Kumble, who failed to take a wicket in the first Test, said.

Despite several players having a poor game, Kumble indicated that the Indians will field the same side as they are trying to square the series. “There’s no need to chop and change. Yes we had a poor game, but there have been instances in the past where we have not started a series well, but have fought back as the series progressed,” he added.

The Sri Lankans too will be unchanged and captain Mahela Jayawardene said that the inclusion of right-arm fast bowler Dhammika Prasad in the squad was more as a cover since the team is playing away from capital Colombo.

Jayawardene was pleased to return to Galle as the team has a great record at this venue. “This has been one of our famous grounds. We get good support from Galle and we get good the spectator support. Lot of our cricketers hail from this part of the country and there’s lot of tradition involved here,” Jayawardene said.

His own form at this ground has been great as he has scored over 1300 runs in 12 Tests at an average of 99:21 with two hundreds and two double hundreds. “I know I have a good record here. It’s just the atmosphere and the support that I get here that keeps me going I guess,” he said.

Jayawardene believed that the two spinners of the side, Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Murlaitharan, who played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s victory taking 19 of the 20 Indian wickets, will be central to Sri Lanka’s game plan.

“We asked them some questions and they did not have the answers and we need to find out whether they will have the answers in this Test Match, but having said that, we are aware of the quality and the depth in the Indian side and we expect them to bounce back hard.”

The last time Sri Lanka played a Test against India here, they won by ten wickets.

India (from): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble (captain), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, R.P. Singh, Munaf Patel and Pragyan Ojha

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

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) and Mark Benson (England)
Television Referral Umpire: Billy Doctrove (West Indies)
Third Umpire: Gamini Silva (Sri Lanka)

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