Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, Galle July 30, 2008

Upbeat Sri Lanka look to seal series

Mahela Jayawardene averages more than 99 in Galle, and has scored double-centuries in each of his last two Tests here © AFP

Match facts

Thursday July 31 - Monday August 4, 2008
Start time 10.15am (0445GMT)

Big Picture

After the annihilation at the SSC, the Indians have plenty of questions to answer in the second Test at Galle. The gulf between the two teams was so vast, and India were so abject in all departments, that Anil Kumble will be justified in believing that things can only get better. The bad news is the improvement will have to be dramatic for India to have any chance of levelling the series; the good news is they have done it before in Sri Lanka. The last time India toured here, in 2001, they lost the first Test by ten wickets, and then bounced back to win the second by seven wickets.

Sri Lanka's display in the first Test was so emphatic, though, that it seems unlikely they will slip up like they had then. They're coming back to a venue which has brought them plenty of success and one that is hosting only its second Test since being ravaged by the tsunami in 2004. Sri Lanka couldn't finish the job against England last year despite dismissing them for 81; this time, they'll hope to seal the series with one Test still to play.

Form guide (last 5 Tests)

Sri Lanka WLWDD

Watch out for

The spin wizards: Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis didn't give India a chance in the first Test, and they'll ask plenty of questions of the batsmen's technique in Galle as well.

Sachin Tendulkar scored only 39 runs in two innings in the first Test but the manner in which he tackled the spinners bodes well for future contests. He needs 133 more to become Test cricket's leading run-scorer, so there is plenty of motivation for him to turn on the run tap.

The review system: The first experiment with the use of more technology in decision making wasn't an unqualified success and the system will be under scrutiny again in Galle. Mark Benson, who reversed three decisions at the SSC after consulting with third umpire Rudi Koertzen, will be watching the replays this time while Koertzen does the on-field duty.

Team news

So utterly dominant were Sri Lanka at the SSC that they're almost certain to field an unchanged line-up, unless a last-minute injury or illness forces a change. The only aspect which disappointed in the first Test was the fast-bowling department. The new-ball bowlers took only one wicket, and Chaminda Vaas didn't take any, with his pace dipping to as low as 110 kph at times. Dammika Prasad has been added to the squad because of the pace he offers but it's unlikely Sri Lanka will sacrifice Vaas' swing, control and experience.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Michael Vandort, 2 Malinda Warnapura, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 Muttiah Muralitharan, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Nuwan Kulasekara.

Despite the first Test debacle, India's batting and bowling line-ups are likely to remain unchanged as well. The only change they might consider is the wicketkeeper. Dinesh Karthik dropped a couple of chances at the SSC and failed with the bat as well. He attempted a hopeless slog off Muralitharan in the first innings and edged limply to slip in the second. However, Kumble indicated India wouldn't make any changes, which suggests Parthiv Patel will have to wait to play his first Test since October 2004.

India (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 VVS Laxman, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Anil Kumble (capt), 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ishant Sharma.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove and Rudi Koertzen. Third umpire: Mark Benson

Pitch & conditions

The pitch is likely to be another turner which will suit Sri Lanka. What might not suit them as much is the weather forecast with thunderstorms likely throughout the game. With India fighting to level the series, that's a piece of information Anil Kumble won't like either.

Stats & Trivia

  • Sri Lanka have won six out of 12 Tests in Galle, losing only two. All their wins have been comprehensive - three by an innings, two by ten wickets, and one by 315 runs.

  • Muralitharan needs nine more wickets to get to 100 Test scalps at Galle. His 91 wickets have come in only 12 games at an average of 16.50 and an economy-rate of 1.96 runs per over.

  • Mahela Jayawardene has a Test average of 99.21 at this ground, with four hundreds and six fifties in 17 innings. He has scored double-hundreds in his last two Tests here.

  • Against England last year, which was the first Test in Galle since the tsunami, seamers took 16 of the 20 wickets which fell to bowlers. Chaminda Vaas had match figures of 4 for 65 while Chanaka Welegedara took 4 for 76.


    "These are the conditions that you grow up with. I have a liking for SSC and Galle. I don't know, maybe it's because of the fans or the atmosphere."
    Mahela Jayawardene tries to explain why he has been so prolific here.

    "One down is one down, whether you're in Australia or Sri Lanka, so it's a matter of regrouping. We've done that and spent quality time discussing issues on and off the field, seeing how we can cope and come back. We've done that in the past with the same set of players and there is definitely a lot of experience and resilience in this team."
    Anil Kumble dismisses the notion that the comprehensive defeat at the SSC has demoralised the Indian team

    S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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