Full-strength teams likely for deciding Test
Lasith Malinga, Sachin Tendulkar, and Gautam Gambhir returned to training two days before the series-decider begins at the P Sara Oval on Tuesday. Malinga had missed the second Test because of a stiff knee and a bout of fever. Gambhir was out because of a swelling in his knee, while Tendulkar missed the final day's play of the second Test because of a groin strain.
That Tendulkar and Gambhir are rested for the upcoming tri-series had raised doubts around their participation in the final Test too, but they seemed to have recovered well. The other man rested for the one-dayers, Harbhajan Singh skipped the training session, but the team management suggested there was no injury scare.
Chanaka Welegedara, who was left out of the second Test to sort out his rhythm, was one of the three Sri Lankan players to join Malinga in what was an optional training session. "Even though he dismissed Virender Sehwag twice in Galle, we decided a week's work with the coaching staff will get his rhythm back," Mahela Jayawardene wrote of the decision to drop Welegedara.
A selection committee decision for the third Test was expected later in the night. Sri Lanka's bowling coach, Champaka Ramanayake, though, was positive after the light training session that Malinga was fit.
India had a full session, and neither Tendulkar nor Gambhir looked in any apparent discomfort. If Tendulkar plays the P Sara Test, as all indications point to at the moment, he will become the most capped Test player in the world, overtaking Steve Waugh's 168.
Gambhir hasn't had a great series so far. His couldn't last an over in both innings in Galle, and then injured his knee, only to see M Vijay score a half-century on a flat SSC track against an attack missing Malinga, the man who dismissed him twice in five deliveries. "Gautam is raring to go," captain MS Dhoni had said two days ago.
Yuvraj Singh, who also missed the second Test because of fever, is back to fitness, but the call on whether to bring him back at the expense of the debut centurion Suresh Raina will be a tough one for India to make.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo