Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, is surprised that Muttiah Muralitharan has gone without success in the first two ODIs in Colombo. He said that Pakistan had done their homework on how to play him. Pakistan lead the series 1-0 after winning the second match on Sunday.
"It's surprising that he [Muralitharan] has not taken any wickets because he is a world-class bowler but it's a good sign for us keeping in mind the [forthcoming] Test series," Woolmer told The News. "Test cricket is obviously very different from one-day matches but it's a morale booster if you can manage to keep Murali wicketless. I thought Tillakaratne Dilshan turned the ball more in the second match. We did prepare a lot on how to play him and so far our boys have played him reasonably well which is a good sign for us ahead of the Tests." Muralitharan took 0 for 33 and 0 for 22 in two low-scoing matches at the Premadasa Stadium.
The two-Test series has been pushed back by two days after reserve days were added for two one-dayers. The first Test will now begin on March 26 at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo while the second Test will be held in Kandy from April 3.
After the first one-day international of a three-match series had to be abandoned due to rain on Friday, reserve days were agreed upon for the remaining matches.
Woolmer anticipated slow wickets for the Tests and said that Danish Kaneria would have a major role. "Obviously our focus right now is to build on our win in the second match and wrap up the ODI series but on the evidence of what we've seen so far I think we are going to have slow wickets for the Tests and the ball will turn.
"Danish has been our main bowler in Tests in the last two years and these pitches and conditions are ideal for him although the weather conditions can be very energy sapping for the bowlers."
Meanwhile, Pakistan have called up Arshad Khan, the offspinner, to their Test squad. He was omitted from the one-day party, but will bring some added experience to the spin department which will be headed by Kaneria.
Tahir Khan, another offspinner, and Abdur Rehman, the slow-left armer, will both be returning home following the one-day series. The final ODI is on Wednesday and the first Test starts at the SSC in Colombo on March 26.