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May 17, 2006
Sanath Jayasuriya has been overlooked for Sri Lanka's four-day warm-up game against Sussex at Hove, starting tomorrow, and is therefore a doubt for the second Test at Edgbaston next week.
Jayasuriya, who recently reversed his decision to retire from Test cricket, met up with the squad during the Lord's Test and had been expected to slot quickly back into the side.
But Sri Lanka's achievement in saving the first Test has changed the management's strategy. Upul Tharanga, who made a composed half-century, is guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, but both Michael Vandort and Jehan Mubarak are expected to compete for the second opener's slot.
At the age of 26 and 25 respectively, they are a full decade younger than Jayasuriya, and consequently form part of Sri Lanka's long-term strategy.
"We need to be playing the guys who are fronting up tomorrow," said Sri Lanka's coach, Tom Moody. "They need the opportunity to find some form and prepare them for the Test match.
"Sanath is very much a part of our plans depending on the conditions going into the second and third Tests. You just don't know what the form, fitness and all those things are going to be.
"All we are concentrating on now is working very hard with a young and exciting squad in a transitional period. As long as we are patient and show faith in these young players the future of Sri Lanka cricket is in good shape."
With a ten-day gap between Lord's and Edgbaston, the game against Sussex is important for Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen to keep their momentum going. Sri Lanka are therefore likely to play their full batting line up barring Tillakaratne Dilshan who is being rested because of a mild hamstring injury.
"It's a crucial game for us because it is important that we continue the positive momentum we've taken from Lord's into this game," added Moody. "Hopefully we will get some very good practice ahead of what's going to be an important second Test."
Moody added that Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas would also be rested because of the heavy workload they will be asked to do for the rest of the tour. Nuwan Zoysa and Lasith Malinga, who missed out at Lord's, are likely to get an opportunity to impress.
"We need to see who the form bowler is," added Moody, "because we want to win the second Test and we need to take 20 wickets."
Sri Lanka team v Sussex (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Jehan Mubarak, 3 Michael Vandort, 4 Kumar Sangakkara, 5 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 6 Thilan Samaraweera, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Lasith Malinga, 9 Nuwan Zoysa, 10 Malinga Bandara, 11 Farveez Maharoof.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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