Injury concerns dominate build up to final
Injury worries plagued both North Zone and Sri Lanka A ahead of their clash in the Duleep Trophy final at Kolkata tomorrow. VRV Singh, the Punjab fast bowler, has been ruled out with a viral fever while Malinda Warnapura, Sri Lanka A's star batsman, and Upul Chandana, their legspinner, are unlikely starters.
Warnapura, the only Sri Lankan batsman to score a hundred in the tournament, injured his shoulder during a fielding drill, while Chandana pulled a hamstring. Neither Warnapura or Chandana have been ruled out of the match and a decision will be taken tomorrow, according to the medical staff. The back-up options for both players are Jeewan Mendis, a left-handed batsman, and Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner with international experience. Ishara Amerasinghe and Kosela Kulasekara, both right-arm medium pace bowlers, are the other bowling options.
The two captains, Mithun Manhas and Thilan Samaraweera, reckoned it was a good pitch to bat on after inspecting it during practice. "Its firm and should not break in five days," said Manhas. "Gautam [Gambhir] and [Ashish] Nehra didn't practice because they were yet to arrive, but we have no worries."
Sri Lanka A, in their Duleep Trophy debut, brushed aside West Zone by 195 runs before staging an improbable comeback, thanks to a battling lower order, against South Zone at this same venue. Samaraweera felt his side had the advantage. "We've been here [in Kolkata] longer than North Zone have, and we've played here before," he said. "We've got contributions from everybody yet not many big scores from the top order. On such a pitch like the one here, it's a case of getting runs on the board."
Sri Lanka A are the first foreign team to compete with the Indian zonal sides - after England A, Bangladesh Academy XI and Zimbabwe A had been completely outclassed. But they will need something special if they're to upstage North Zone, a team with a record 16 Duleep Trophy titles.