Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele September 7, 2011

Eranga favoured to debut


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 ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • roger on September 8, 2011, 2:10 GMT

    Words amount to nothing if they are not followed through with actions. Dilshans boys have talked up this its time to deliver.

  • Andrew on September 7, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    I totally agree with Arjuna. Sri Lankans do not have the commitment or determination to win. It is not just Dilshan who is not playing well. Sangakkara should be more determined to spend more time at the wicket and provide a good base for the middle order batsman. Middle order can do well only if the openers give them a solid start. Aussies under Clarke proved they can adapt to new conditions within a short time. I am predicting them to move to Number one withinj 18 months. It is too early to say, but they are the only side who can beat England. Sri Lankans are naturally talented but not tenatious enough to compete with England or South Africa in test cricket. I do not see them ever moving beyond 4th position untill they are able to change their mental block and overcome their defeatist attitude.

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    Desperate measures may be required here to boost batting...Sangakkara behind the wicket, additional specialist batsman in for Prasanna and Dilshan batting lower down the order with someone else opening with Paranvitana. If Welegedara is out then Dhamika Prasad shoul replace.

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2011, 19:36 GMT

    Openers must give a decent start..else the losing streak will continue..too much burden is being placed on Mahela...He is the most exquisite batsman in the game today, but he can't be put under tremendous pressure in every test inning...

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    Definitely it's good to see Dilshan say the start is really important.

  • Nathan on September 7, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    I totally agree with Arujna Ranatunge. Srilankans are good on paper and in the nets, but Aussies are more determine to win and committed to their job. I have said this before the Galle test that Srilanka may play well in few isolated session in the match. But Aussies aggressive nature and relentless commitment to the cause will surprise Srilanka.

  • Dummy4 on September 7, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    HELLO i am sania best of luck s l team

  • Aruna on September 7, 2011, 15:53 GMT

    If its is a good batting pitch, include Seekuge instead of Samaraweera, we have enough batsmen if it is a god pitch, then of course what we need are good spin variations. Go with three spinners and two fast bowlers. It is not the bowlers who failed SL, but batsmen. Why not switch under performing batsmen instead of bowlers. Dilshan, this applies to you as well.

  • Lakmal on September 7, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    good luck Eranga!all the best a shaun pollock here.

  • Umar on September 7, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Sri Lanka should play 1 seamer and 3 spinners.

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