Younis Khan, the Pakistan captain, has expressed confidence in his batsmen's ability to tackle the wiles of spinner Ajantha Mendis in the three-Test series starting at Galle on Saturday. Younis said his batsmen's familiarisation with Mendis is only not because the two teams have played each other often in the past year or so, but also because Pakistanis are used to playing spin at home.
"We have a lot of offspinners, left-arm spinners and legspinners," Younis said. "The wickets are similar to Pakistan. Although there is more grip on the Sri Lankan pitches, all pitches are flat. Why Sri Lanka and Pakistan are meeting each other so often is because of their good relationship. Both teams know each other's weaknesses. Because of our nature we compete with each other very well."
Younis lamented the abrupt ending to the last Test series between the two countries in Pakistan early this year. "It was turning out to be a nice series at that time especially the first Test when Sri Lanka scored something like 600 and we scored 700. That was a crucial time for us. I was the new captain and we had introduced a couple of youngsters. There was no need for this kind of ending, especially that Lahore incident. We will start where we finished off in Lahore. It's good for both teams."
Younis said he would miss Muttiah Muralitharan who has been ruled out of the series with a leg injury. "The last series I played against Murali, I pulled my hamstring stretching all the way trying to play him for two days. He is a fantastic bowler. Whenever Murali is under pressure he talks to you. When I scored 300 in Karachi he talked to me all the time chatting and laughing. I will miss him."
Younis stated that he always wanted to be positive and would go to the Test with three fast bowlers. "For the spinners' place I have the option of playing either Shoaib Malik, Danish Kaneria or Saeed Ajmal."
"Pakistan has not been playing a lot of Test cricket in the last few years. It's a good chance if one team can hold its nerves and win. The last series was close when suddenly we took five wickets. This wicket looks a good track, harder than the one at Karachi. It depends on the first session. If you have a good start you have a good chance of winning. It depends on how the batsmen and bowlers react to the wicket. Its 50-50 for both teams."