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Can't write Australia off against Herath, warns Mathews

Angelo Mathews admitted that Sri Lanka refrained from replacing one of the openers as they wanted to retain their winning combination AFP

With yet another seam bowler sustaining a hamstring injury, the elation following Sri Lanka's victory in Pallekele has become mild trepidation ahead of the second Test in Galle. For Nuwan Pradeep to play the second Test, he will require an extraordinary recovery. Having won a match after collapsing for 117 already this series, Sri Lanka are not expecting a second miracle in the space of a week.

If Pradeep is out, the bowlers in triage can now be said to match the quality of the attack Sri Lanka will be forced to field for the second Test. Each of Sri Lanka's three best quicks - including Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera - will be unavailable, as well as Suranga Lakmal and legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay. Captain Angelo Mathews said the increased burden on Pradeep through the England tour, had probably led to the latest injury.

"Workload plays a huge role in their injuries," he said. "If you talk to physio and trainer, they will say with the amount of cricket we play, workload management is important. We had to go with the same lot of fast bowlers for every game in England, and that's why, probably, they got injured.

"Now, we're in the same situation as in the last match. We're waiting till tomorrow to get an opinion from the physio and trainer on Pradeep. If he doesn't play, we have Vishwa Fernando."

Australia have also had to make an injury-forced change, flying in left-arm spinner Jon Holland, who is now a certainty to feature in Galle. Sri Lanka's batsmen have, in the past, attempted to take advantage of such situations by attacking the new man in the opposition XI, but Mathews has advocated a more cautious approach.

"He looks a tall left-arm spinner who lands it on the spot, and to play Test cricket for Australia, he's got to be good," Mathews said. "We don't have much video, but saw a bit and we know what to expect of him.

"In Test cricket, you can't go after a bowler the whole day. You've got to play him on merit, take a look at him initially, and see what he has to offer. On these wickets, you've got to see what he bowls and what pace he bowls and how he turns the ball. Those things will give you a fair idea how to play him."

Mathews admitted that Sri Lanka had thought about replacing one of their two misfiring openers from the Pallekele Test, with Dimuth Karunaratne's place under particular scrutiny. Sri Lankan surfaces have been tough on openers from every team over the past few years, however, with first-wicket stands averaging only 25.82 since January 2012. That figure is easily the lowest in all nations, save for Zimbabwe, which has seen substantially less cricket in that time.

"We had a chat with the selectors about the openers, and we just want to try and give the boys another opportunity," Mathews said. "We want to keep the winning combination going. If at all we need any changes, we will do that, but as of now, we're not thinking of any changes in the top order."

Australia faltered against spin in Pallekele, but Mathews remained wary of the opposition top order's quality. Sri Lanka are set to field three spinners again, the dramatic turn of left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan to complement gentler, probing offerings from Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera.

"You can't write the Australians off against Herath," he said. "They came up with a different strategy in the second innings, like using the crease a lot, and sweeping him a little bit. We have got to be cautious. They didn't get runs, but they are a very attacking top order and the guys who didn't get runs in Pallekele, we have to be cautious of. It's a tough place to play spin here. It will turn more than in Pallekele I reckon, but we still need to bowl in the right areas to take wickets."