'May be rustiness' for Test-starved Sri Lanka - Herath
Rangana Herath, the Sri Lanka left-arm spinner, has expressed concern about his country's lack of Test matches this year, with their last long-format game being played more than nine months ago, at home against Bangladesh. Herath said it would be easier to perform if they played the format more often, though he believes his side is up for the challenge against Pakistan in the UAE, starting on Tuesday; it will be Sri Lanka's first Test outing against a top-eight opposition in almost a year.
"If you play regularly then its much easier to keep your form alive," Herath said. "As a team, we last played in March, and since then no games, so you can say there may be some rustiness, and you [will] need practice to shake its off, but you can't control these things. We, after all, had good five [ODI] games and we are almost ready for the three Tests."
Sri Lanka had a two-hour training session at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the venue of the first Test, with Herath rolling his arm over for the first time in nearly a month. He had missed the ODI series due to personal reasons, but was not concerned about his personal form.
"I have played some one-day games so there should be no rust for me. I have done well against Pakistan. I have more than 50 wickets [against them], but everything is [in the] past."
Herath has 51 wickets in 12 matches against Pakistan, and his last bowling figures in Test cricket were 5 for 68 and 7 for 89. He refuses to see Pakistan's batting line-up as brittle, though.
"It's the sort [his record against Pakistan] of thing that you can only take confidence from. But Pakistan is a good side with only Shan [Masood] a new face, so it's not easy to take them down. As a bowler, I know my responsibilities and I need to start from the beginning, day after tomorrow."
When asked about his opposite number Saeed Ajmal, he was generous in his praise but did not concede any ground. "Ajmal is a very good bowler, his record is very good," Herath said. "But even if I take my record in Tests, I have done well in the last four-five years, so some can say that it's a battle, but I am not concerned about Ajmal. I am concerned about my team and how I am going to perform."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here