Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Colombo

Mendis could miss out as Sri Lanka opt for pace

Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo

July 19, 2009

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Ajantha Mendis appeals in vain, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day, July 5, 2009
In his last four Tests, all against Pakistan, Mendis has taken just six wickets at 65.83 © AFP
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Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain, has hinted at picking four seamers for the final Test against Pakistan which means the out-of-form spinner Ajantha Mendis could sit out the match starting Monday. Left-arm medium-pacer Chaminda Vaas will be returning to the side for the Test, which he announced will be his last.

"Playing four seamers is a very good possibility, the combinations are endless with the quality we have," Sangakkara said. "The best balance is always seven batsmen and four bowlers depending on who the bowlers are. We've played cricket at the SSC with six batsmen and five bowlers, one of them being an allrounder. Those two conditions sit very well with us."

Since his debut in July 2008, Mendis has only missed one out of nine Tests Sri Lanka played - against Bangladesh, when he twisted his ankle. But in his last four Tests, all against Pakistan, Mendis has taken just six wickets at 65.83, compared to his first four in which he took 33 at 18.36.

Sri Lanka have already won the series 2-0 going into this Test and Sangakkara said they would aim to bat Pakistan out of the match, having failed to do so in the previous ones. "If we really buckle down and play positively and look to score runs that opportunity will come to more than one of our batsmen." No Sri Lankan batsman has scored a century in the two Tests.

"It's always a tough thing to make a clean sweep," Sangakkara said. "You want to have a clean sweep but the key towards achieving that is hard work, training and making sure on the match day you go out there and execute everything that was discussed, all the game plans, individual responsibility etc. Just wanting to win and expecting to win doesn't really work without the effort."

Sangakkara ruled out the possibility of any complacency from his side in the dead rubber. "Pakistan has played patchy cricket so have we. Unfortunately their patches have been more disastrous than ours. We've had opportunities where we could have won Test matches at a canter but we didn't convert it. Pakistan had the same opportunities and they didn't convert and managed to give us wins."

Younis Khan, the Pakistan captain, was worried by his side's batting collapses. In the first Test in Galle, Pakistan lost their last eight wickets for 46 while chasing 168. At the P Sara, they were bowled out for 90 in the first innings and lost their last eight wickets for 26 in the second.

"In the last two Tests there were 15 sessions and we dominated 12 of them and lost the Tests in the remaining three sessions," Younis said. "It's amazing what's happening to us. We have to do well in the final Test because after that we have five ODIs and one Twenty20. The guys will be more focused on partnerships. Maybe we should play some games when wickets are falling or chat amongst ourselves to handle the pressure better. This is a personal thing. In international cricket you need to have more focus and motivation. We can handle that. At the moment we need more partnerships."

Younis said despite the series loss, the players were motivated and the criticism from former players would spur them on further. "The mental state is very simple, everybody wants to win. It is a good time for the senior guys to come forward and deliver. The Test series is lost but we still have the ODI series and Twenty20 if we can win them it will be good for Pakistan cricket." Younis said it was difficult to succeed in Tests after not playing any since December 2007. However, he added, international cricket was about adapting to different conditions. "We need to focus more and deliver."

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