SLC President's XI v South Africans July 21, 2006

Samaraweera under pressure to perform

Tilan Samaraweera under pressure to perform © Getty Images
Seven of the Sri Lanka side to tour England last month have been included in a 14-man squad to represent a Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI for the three-day warm-up match against the touring South Africans on Saturday.

With the first Test beginning a week on Thursday, the focus of Saturday's warm-up is the competition for Sri Lanka's middle-order. Tilan Samaraweera, who had a poor Test series in England, failing to reach double figures in any of his four innings, is being given another chance to regain his place. The SSC, where the Test is being held, is a favourite of Samaraweera's and his home ground: he averages 77.9 in 10 Tests and three of his five Test hundreds were compile there, including a career-best 142.

Samaraweera will fight for a spot in the Test line-up with the 19-year-old right-hander Chamara Kapugedera, who replaced him in the final Test against England, at Trent Bridge, where he struck his maiden Test fifty in Sri Lanka's victory to level the series.

Michael Vandort and Jehan Mubarak, both left-handers, are also under pressure to perform. While Mubarak failed to get amongst the runs and was subsequently dropped against England, Vandort went onto score a hundred in the Edgbaston Test and retained his place for the rest of the series.

With Sanath Jayasuriya knocking on the door once again, following a brilliant run in the one-dayers against England and Holland, the pressure on Vandort in particular is immense. Fast bowlers Nuwan Zoysa and Ruchira Perera, and the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene are the other members of the squad who toured England.

South Africa, whose depleted squad numbers just 12 in the absence of Shaun Pollock and Thandi Tshabalala, will name their eleven on the morning of the match. Both players will join the squad next week ahead of the Test matches although time will be tight for Pollock, whose wife is expected to give birth around the same time.

Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI (from)
Avishka Gunawardene (capt), Tilan Samaraweera (vice-capt), Michael Vandort, Jehan Mubarak, Chamara Kapugedera, Upul Chandana, Rangana Herath, Akalanka Ganegama, Nuwan Zoysa, Ruchira Perera, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Chamara Silva, Jeewan Mendis, Kaushal Lokuarachchi.

South Africans (from)
Ashwell Prince (capt), Jacques Rudolph, Hashim Amla, Nicky Boje, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn.