Northants v Sri Lankans, Tour match, Wantage Road, 3rd day June 7, 2014

SL hopeful on Lakmal for Headingley

Sri Lanka remain hopeful that Suranga Lakmal will be fit for the second Test against England at Headingley, despite a hamstring injury keeping him out of the current squad.

Lakmal suffered the problem during the one-off T20 at the start of the tour but his rehabilitation is understood to be going well back in Sri Lanka and he will undergo a fitness test while the first Test, at Lord's, is ongoing. He could then rejoin the squad for the second Test, which starts four days later.

The make-up of Sri Lanka's seam attack could be key to their chances of upsetting England in the Tests and claiming an unexpected sweep of all three series. Lakmal has emerged alongside Shaminda Eranga as one of Sri Lanka's preferred new-ball bowlers, under the tutelage of Chaminda Vaas, and his absence leaves some uncertainty around the line-up for Lord's.

Eranga has recently been left out of limited-overs competition to preserve him for Tests but he has not played a competitive match since February. He has been Sri Lanka's most successful Test pace bowler since his debut in 2011, with 38 wickets, putting him ahead of the left-armer Chanaka Welegedara and Lakmal.

Welegedara's last Test was in 2012, while Nuwan Kulasekara is only a fitful performer in the longer format, despite his importance to Sri Lanka's white-ball cricket. Nuwan Pradeep, perhaps the liveliest of the seamers on show in Northampton, where the third day was washed out by a heavy morning downpour, is also in contention, despite a modest Test record of eight wickets at 89.25.

Prasanna Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's Test wicketkeeper, said of Lakmal, "If he's fit, he'll definitely come in". Jayawardene had a good view of Welegedara, Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad, the other seamer in the tour party, from behind the stumps at Wantage Road and suggested the competition for places was a good sign for Sri Lanka, as they attempt to add to Test wins on English grounds in 1998 and 2006.

"Lakmal is a huge loss but everyone saw yesterday that our pace bowlers did brilliantly on this track," Jayawardene said. "We have a good pace attack so we can do much better on this tour."

Jayawardene indicated that Sri Lanka want the opportunity to bat again on Sunday, when the forecast is more promising and play will begin half an hour early. The batting line-up has not inconsiderable experience of conditions in England and Jayawardene's only Test century outside the subcontinent came in Cardiff in 2011 - a bittersweet experience, as Sri Lanka collapsed for 82 on the final day to lose by an innings.

Having won the T20 and ODI encounters - the latter amid some rancour - Sri Lanka can claim a psychological edge going into the Tests. With England in transition and expected to field three debutants for the second match running, this series represents a tantalising opportunity for a rare success away from home.

"We all want to do that, I think we have a good chance this time, because we had a good one-day series and morale is high," Jayawardene said. "All the boys did well - fielding, batting, bowling. So we are going for the Test series, 100 percent.

"It's not easy coming from the subcontinent, we have to adapt to the conditions very early, adjust our technique when batting and bowling in these conditions. After the one-day series loss, they are coming hard, we're expecting that."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on June 8, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    @Darshan Dias Abeysinghe: According to you Tharanga's inconsistency is shown, scores of 24,168,19,23,10,34,24,149,0,116,30,0,36. This means 643 Runs from 13 innings: BATTING AVERAGE OF 49.46 (almost 50) in recent Domestic Premier Division Matches.!!! What do you mean by this..? A guy who was DROPPED just 6 ODIs after making the SL RECORD in batting CONSISTENCY: 2nd FASTEST to Achieve 5000 Runs (from 157 ODIs, just 5 ODIs behind Marvan). Who needs any more proof..?

    Despite scoring 5000+ runs in ODIs, Tharanga is the ONLY batsmen in the World who had been given JUST 15 TEST Matches (713 Runs -165 HS - Average 28.52) Including 52 Vs Eng @Lords, 34 , 46 Vs Eng @ Nottingham, 33 , 24 Vs NZ @ Christchurch, 72 Vs Pak @ Colombo, 165 , 71* Vs Bang @ Bogra, 47 Vs India @ Ahmedabad..!

    With 49.46 batting average in most recent premier division matches, Upul Tharanga should have been included in the TEST squad. There is no OPENER in the current squad who CAN MATCH HIS TRACK RECORD.!

  • Samantha on June 8, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    @Darshan Dias Abeysinghe: It seems you don't understand what consistency means and how it is measured. Career Batting AVERAGE is the PRIME Factor indicating the Overall Consistency of a Batsmen, who had scored more than 5000 Runs. Every Star batsmen/bowler in the world has MANY brief lean periods in their careers. But they don't get dropped unless they are over the hill (37+ yrs), simply because these match-winning players have established a long track record to prove their consistency.Tharanga (29 yrs) holds the record for MOST CONSISTENT/Fastest Accumilator in batting (look at the STATS given in Andrew-Silva's posting)! Since July 2012 to the day he was axed July 2013, Tharanga had played 20 ODIs-2 N/O, and accumulated 567 R at an Av of 31.5 on home soil & lively decks! He has a Batting Av of almost FORTY (39.9) in his last 8 ODIs, before dropping in July 2013! Is this inconsistency for a player who had managed so many achievements right from the day he began his ODI career?

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    @Andrew Silva, you can rant and rave all you want about Upul Tharanga, but fact of the matter is Tharanga is inconsistent, one match. In fact he averages just 28 in tests, which is boosted by 165 against Bangladesh followed by 77 in the same match. This was when BD was not even half as decent as they are now. He then played the in his last 10 test innings he has scored 131 runs. Do the math that's an average of 13 in 7 matches.

    In ODI's you see just how inconsistent he is. 1, 0, 12,25,174, 7,6,11,43, 3,5,24 in his last 12 innings. His inconsistency means the middle order is exposed without runs on the board. In fact even in the domestic circuit his inconsistency is shown, scores of 24,168,19,23,10,34,24,149,0,116,30,0,36. So how can one rely on Tharanga, when he can't even be consistent in domestic cricket?

  • Janaka on June 8, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    We can be so proud about our fast bowling attack, trained by Chaminda Vaas, lead by Maali, followed by Shaminda, Lakmal, Thisara, Mathews, Prasad, Welagedara... Good luck lions! Fast bowling is the most admirable thing in cricket. Love to see this... All the best!

  • Dummy4 on June 7, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    Herath-Uk, I agree Thirimanne should never open even without Anderson in opposition bowling line up. At present he can bat at No.5 and slowly move up the order following retirement of Sanga and Mahela. Whether he could be a long term No. 3 only time will tell. I am not in favor of the idea of using a pinch hitter as an opener in a test match. In the way squad is selected we have no option but to go with Dimuth and hope at least he will see off first 10 overs or so. This could very well be his last series if he continue to fail. We could either recall Paranavithana (who did not do a bad job as an opener) or Upul Tharanga or alternatively try to groom a younger opener. If our pace trio can knife through England top order that will set up things nicely for Herath. However, we need to keep in mind that England bat very deep all the way up to No. 10.

  • Pinidiya on June 7, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    Unfortunately, the STRANGE way that Andrew Fidel & SL selection panel is overlooking the most valuable asset we have among young OPENERS; prove that there is some CALAMITY behind the seen.

    It seems none of them is brave enough even to mention the name of that unfortunate SL lad Upul Tharanga. Otherwise, who can forget a 29 yr Opener that contributed 5000+ runs for Sri Lanka, with 13 big Centuries + 28 Fifty plus scores in all major Test playing countries? Especially at a time, looking for an experienced opener to fill the abyss, created due to this lad's exclusion last year. This can't be anything to do with Cricket. Sanath & Marvan know his capabilities, better than anyone!

    Tharanga has the Record for the MOST CONSISTENT SL batting in ODIs, being the Fastest to score first 1000 & 2nd Fastest to score 5000 in 157 ODI, just 5 ODIs behind Marvan. Strange world! A guy (Upul) with the HIGHEST overall Batting Av 34.5 for a SL player in Eng/Aus/WI/SA/NZ has no place in National Side..??

  • Marlon on June 7, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Sri Lanka have a very good team and definitely they are the best in Asia. So winning test matches in England is no problem for them at all. They have great players as always.

  • Ranil on June 7, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    First Test is Sri Lanka's best chance for a win & so rather than a long term plan should go with a makeshift opener in Dilruwan. In addition to Eng's susceptibility to spinners this could give more breathing space to the fast bowlers to freshen up for short fiery spells. Dimuth may get a nought or a thirty or so but that would be his all worth to the game whereas Dilruwan has more value even if gets the same score. Thrimanne should never open as it will pump up Anderson to our disadvantage. Anderson considers him as his bunny but this is not the time to test it.

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