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September 7, 2011
Shaminda Eranga, the fast bowler, has a strong chance to make his Test debut for Sri Lanka in the second Test that begins tomorrow in Pallekele, as left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara struggles with a knee problem. Eranga, 25, had impressed during his appearances on the ODI-leg of this tour, and Australia were a little surprised not to see him in the XI for the first Test in Galle, which the hosts lost by 125 runs.
Welegedara had trained gingerly on Wednesday, and his place in the side will hinge on a fitness test scheduled an hour before the Test begins. Ajantha Mendis is also likely to be included in the Sri Lanka XI in place of Suraj Randiv.
"[Mendis] is in the 13, we have not picked the final XI," Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said. "Welegedara is having slight knee pain and we have to assess his fitness tomorrow morning and then make a decision."
Sri Lanka's readiness for the contest has been questioned after the Galle Test, with former captain Arjuna Ranatunga saying that while the hosts look the stronger side on paper, Australia were more committed. Dilshan said his team had built up a more positive mindset while training in Pallekele, and was now ready to fight for a series-levelling victory.
"In the last two days we've had good training sessions, everyone is ready to play their part in this match. I think we have the confidence [to bounce back], everyone is good mentally."
A potential ally for the hosts is the pitch in Pallekele, which seems to display none of the ill-will of the Galle surface, allowing Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to harbour thoughts of dominating with the bat. Australia's defeats in the last Ashes, Sri Lanka would recall, came as a result of the weight of runs pressed upon them by England's batsmen.
"It looks a good wicket, especially for the batsmen. I think for the first three days it will be good for batting and then it will start turning," Dilshan said. "In Galle I lost the toss, batting in the second innings was a little hard, but this is a different wicket."
Dilshan's own performance in the first Test placed him under heavy scrutiny, but he has no intention of changing his attacking methods. He is looking forward to improving his productivity though, and the memory of his blistering century in the first Twenty20 international of the tour at this venue could put his mind in the right space.
"I do need to put some runs on the board, especially at the start. The start is really important," Dilshan said. "Definitely this wicket will help the batsmen - all the batsmen can take advantage and score some runs.
"We have talked about what happened in the last match. This is a new match, a new wicket, new conditions. We're looking forward to coming in with new tactics."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala