Mahela Jayawardene has said he expects South Africa to come back hard at them in the second Test starting in Colombo on Friday. Jayawardene's monumental 374 helped Sri Lanka triumph by a whopping innings-and-153-run margin but he cautioned his side against any complacency.
"I am quite positive that the second Test is not going to be as easy as the first one but if we do the hard work and have the commitment that we have being showing out there we can get the result our way," said Jayawardene on the eve of the game at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium, the venue of Sri Lanka's first-ever Test back in 1982. "South Africa will be a different team with the return of Shaun Pollock. Their combination will be different. Shaun is a seasoned campaigner and we know what to expect from him. He will definitely strengthen their batting in the middle order.
"I don't know whether Boeta [Dippenaar] will come into the equation as well. If it is so we will have to view it in a different way. Those are different challenges we will face in the next five days but the guys we have are quite capable of facing them."
Pollock missed the first Test when he took paternity leave to be beside his wife for the birth of their second child. He joined the team during the first Test last week and is likely to replace Andre Nel for this game. Herschelle Gibbs, who has not been in the runs of late, could consider himself lucky to be retained at the expense of Dippenaar.
Sri Lanka is leading the two-Test series 1-0 and according to Jayawardene they are expected to make just one change to their side, with Farveez Maharoof making way for the experienced Chaminda Vaas, the left-arm seamer, who missed the first Test owing to a hamstring strain. "To have Vaasy fully fit gives us a good option," Jayawardene continued. "He brings something different to the combination as a left-arm fast bowler. His huge amount of experience also helps. That's a healthy atmosphere for us to go into the Test because all the guys have performed really well in the bowling unit. It's a tough decision, but we will be glad to make them going into the Test match.
"The likely guy to step down for Vaas will be Farveez. That's the all-round option we have in the side in our combination. Dilhara [Fernando] and Lasith [Malinga] make a difference in our attack. Lasith is a wicket-taking bowler, Dilhara brings extra pace into the attack and Vaasy brings something different. That will be a healthy combination going into the final Test match. The challenge for us is to maintain our standards and continue to do what we are good at out there."
Jayawardene expected the P Saravanamuttu Stadium pitch to have more carry and pace than the one at the SSC. He also felt that their spin ace, Muttiah Muralitharan, would play a significant role. Murali took a match bag of ten wickets, in a marathon 64 overs, on a slow pitch that hardly offered him any help.
"Murali plays a big role in our team," Jayawardene said. "He has been doing so for probably the last ten years or so. He will be reaching a lot of landmarks in his future as well. He is a brilliant warrior especially in the second innings, the amount of overs that he bowled and the amount of pressure he brought on the South Africans. He never slacked off, the effort and commitment was brilliant even though he knew the wicket wasn't offering that much pace and was slow. He's got a very big heart and he is very hungry for wickets and success. It's a very healthy thing to have. The important thing for us to make sure is the other guys know what Murali's role is and bowl as a unit so that we can put pressure on any opposition not just South Africa. He is a quiet assassin and does not worry about what people say to him. He knows exactly what he wants to do out there."
Ashwell Prince, South Africa's captain, was confident that his batsmen were coming to terms playing Murali. "In the first innings he applied a lot of pressure on our batsmen who tried to take liberties with the other bowlers and lost their wicket," said Prince. "But in the second innings we played him better and better. Although he took six wickets he had to bowl 60-odd overs. We are quite confident of taking him on. I hope the pitch breaks up more in the last couple of days of the Test to give our bowlers a better opportunity to win the match. Not only [Nicky] Boje but our quicks will also be able to make use of the wear and tear of it."
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 6 Chamara Kapugedera, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Chaminda Vaas, 8 Lasith Malinga, 10 Dilhara Fernando, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
South Africa (probable) 1 Herschelle Gibbs, 2 Andrew Hall, 3 Jacques Rudolph, 4 Hashim Amla, 5 Ashwell Prince (capt), 6 AB de Villiers, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Shaun Pollock, 9 Nicky Boje, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.