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November 14, 2010
Captain Kumar Sangakkara has backed the trio of spinners named in Sri Lanka's squad for the first Test against West Indies starting on Monday at the Galle International Stadium, saying Sri Lankan spin is in good hands despite the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan.
This is the first Test series Sri Lanka are playing since Muralitharan retired at this venue five months ago after taking his 800th Test wicket and bowling his country to a win against India with a match bag of ten wickets.
"We don't have Murali but we have three other bowlers who are very capable. [Ajantha] Mendis, [Rangana] Herath and [Suraj] Randiv have been very impressive in everything they've done," Sangakkara said. "Sri Lankan spin is in very good hands and in the future if they keep improving and working hard they'll get a lot better."
Sangakkara singled out Randiv for special praise and tipped Mendis to make a strong comeback after he missed the tour of Australia. "Randiv is already the main spinner in all forms of the game; that's a meteoric rise in the last two years," he said.
"Rangana Herath is a more solid and experienced bowler and he's done a great job for us. Mendis has had a tough six or seven months where he's had a lot of variations in his thinking rather than in his bowling. The time off from the pressures of international cricket has given him breathing space."
With allrounder Angelo Mathews unable to bowl because of a thigh strain, Sri Lanka have opted to go into the first Test with two seamers and two spinners. "We've got four proper bowlers and we expect them to do the job," Sangakkara said. "If we need a fifth bowler, we may be in a bit of trouble, but before we get to that we have got to keep putting pressure on the opposition." The options of fifth bowler left to Sangakkara are the offspin of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana
Sangakkara described the Galle surface as good for batting with some help for the spinners. "It's a nice wicket with more carry and bounce than we've ever seen."
Sri Lanka have won five out of the six Tests they have played against the West Indies at home with one ending in a draw.
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