Much at stake for India in second Test

July 25th, 2010 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Colombo, July 25 (IANS) India will have to lift their game by many notches when they take on Sri Lanka in the second cricket Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) here Monday.
Sri Lanka are 1-0 up in the three-Test series after their 10-wicket victory against India at Galle. But Sri Lanka would be without strike bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga, who took 15 wickets in between them at Galle.

While Murali played his last Test at Galle, Malinga is out with a stiff knee.

Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, who tormented the Indian batsmen in 2008, is likely to replace Murali. Mendis have not been successful against India after that series, but he is in good form and took six wickets in the warm-up match.

Malinga is likely to be replaced by paceman Dilhara Fernando.

The absence of Murali and Malinga will give India an edge, but the visitors will have to put up a much improved show if they are to level the series and also save their number one position in Test rankings.

“If we lose the No.1 ranking, we will try to get it back. We just have to play well and the rankings will take care of itself,” Dhoni said.

The Indian bowling was hardly convincing at Galle. Ishant Sharma was far from his best and with Zaheer Khan out with an injury, India’s fast bowling is lacking someone who can take wickets with the new ball. Abhimanyu Mithun was impressive in his debut Test and with the wicket at SSC looking to help seamers in the beginning, the India will count on the young pacer to make a mark.

The Indian think-tank could as well play three pacers and one spinner which means that Munaf Patel, who has been recalled for the series, may get a chance. In that case, Pragyan Ojha will have to sit out.

In the spin department, Harbhajan Singh will have to share more responsibility. The off-spinner, who was recovering from a bout of flu in the first Test, looked out of sorts at Galle.

The batsmen, too, will have to pull up their socks.

Also, Gautam Gambhir has a niggle in the knee and the team management would have to take a final call on him.

The home team would look to keep the pressure on India and maintain their six match winning streak at SSC where they have not a lost a Test in six years.

“We are focused on winning the series. We have bowlers who are looking for a chance to make a mark for themselves. This is their opportunity,” Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said.

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