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Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Kandy

Sri Lanka hope for one more show from Sanath

Preview by Osman Samiuddin

April 2, 2006

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Can Sanath Jayasuirya end his Test career with a flourish? © Getty Images
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Just one more time Sanath. That must surely be the wish of any follower of the game, ahead of the second Test at Asgiriya Stadium, Kandy between Sri Lanka and Pakistan and the last for Sanath Jayasuriya; one more time. That bottom-handed grip flicking over point an upper-cut, one more time, that jabbed pull anywhere between square leg and midwicket, one more time, that mad wide-eyed stare in the middle of a big innings, one more time. Has Jayasuriya not been among the most enchanting batsmen of our time?

Pakistan - team and nation - will remember him almost equally with fondness and fear. His exploits in an extremely popular World Cup victory in 1996 are legend here and so is the ever-ready toothpaste-advert smile which accompanied them. But his 48-ball century in Singapore the same year and his double century at Faisalabad - he scored 100 out of a 101-run partnership for the ninth wicket and no need to confirm that it was in double-quick time - makes sure that some fear will remain each time he walks out.

You couldn't describe them, only maybe cuss repeatedly to emphasise their uniqueness. Is not the greatest compliment we can pay to Muttiah Muralitharan one that says he has even overshadowed someone as truly wondrous as Jayasuriya? For sure Jayasuriya hasn't sustained it (who could?) but as he steps onto the field for his last Test, Pakistan will be wary of the curious concoction of emotion, occasion and aligning of stars (if you're into that) that marks last calls, sometimes spectacularly so.

While they're at it, they should beware the rest of the Sri Lankan team. Having done it so often recently, Pakistan would have appreciated the collective nature of Sri Lanka's fightback from 32 for 5 in Colombo; from Tillakaratne Dilshan to Farvez Maharoof to Upul Tharanga to Mahela Jayawardene to Kumar Sangakkara. Much like Pakistan have done, they did it without two key players, Marvan Attapattu and Chaminda Vaas, and neither will be back at Kandy. Nuwan Kulasekara, the young seamer, is expected to replace an off-key Dilhara Fernando, as is left-arm spinner, Sajeeva Weerakoon, in place of Malinga Bandara. The only other change they will hope for is the result; with Pakistan 71 for 2, the home side would have been disappointed not to push through for the win on the final day.



Mohammad Yousuf is fit to resume is place at No. 4 © Getty Images
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With Pakistan, change is permanent. The last time Pakistan fielded an unaltered line-up in Tests, Waqar Younis was captain, the 2003 World Cup was three months away, Inzamam and Saqlain didn't have beards, neither did Mohammad Yousuf who was Yousuf Youhana and Taufeeq Umar and Saleem Elahi were opening in Tests. Yes, that long ago - November, 2002 and 30 Tests to be precise when Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 10 wickets with the same XI that had beaten them by 119 runs the previous week.

The selectors aren't always at fault but someone must be given the abundance of fitness concerns and injuries Pakistan habitually suffer. So it is here; Abdul Razzaq is doubtful with a knee injury but Yousuf has recovered from his hamstring strain and what that indicates for Faisal Iqbal, with two wonderfully contrasting knocks behind him now, we are not sure. Inzamam-ul-Haq didn't provide any clues: "I was impressed with the way the youngsters performed. I am always happy when there is a problem in selection because it means there is competition."

A win for either side will have some landmark value; it will be Sri Lanka's first win over Pakistan in a home Test for exactly 20 years and for Pakistan, it will be a 100th win in Test cricket. The greatest significance of course will be for cricket, for it will be the last time Jayasuriya steps into Test battle. Trevor Penney, Sri Lanka's assistant coach, said: "We haven't beaten Pakistan for 20 years at home. It is going to be the last Test for Sanath and he deserves a grand send-off for what he has been for cricket."

There have been unseasonal rains in the days running up to the Test and it is thought they might disrupt play at some point. They did the last time the two teams clashed here, in July 2000, when heavy rains restricted the match to a half-complete innings from Sri Lanka. 467 for 5 they made then, including an opening stand of 335 and Sanath Teran Jayasuriya made 188 of them. One more time Sanath.

Sri Lanka (probable) Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Tilan Samaraweera, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Farveez Maharoof, Sajeewa Weerakon, Nuwam Kilasekara, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan

Pakistan (possible) Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Faisal Iqbal, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Danish Kaneria

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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