Free Press Journal

Pakistan, Sri Lanka reshuffle pack for decider


Pak captain Misbah Ul Haq (left) with Shahid Afridi

Pallekele: Pakistan and Sri Lanka will ring in several changes, most of them forced on them, in a bid to win the decisive third and final Test starting in Pallekele tomorrow.

Both sides are pulling out all the stops to break the 1-1 deadlock after Pakistan won the first Test by 10 wickets and Sri Lanka responded with a seven-wicket victory in the second.

Sri Lanka will take the field without their batting greats, the retired Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who had committed himself to playing just two Tests against Pakistan and two more against India in August before retiring.

Sangakkara, who has 12,305 runs from 132 Tests, will be replaced at his pivotal number three position by another left-hander Upul Tharanga, 30, who played the last of his 19 Tests a year ago.

“It’s a strange experience to be without Mahela and Sanga, but we have some good young players who are ready to step in,” vice-captain Lahiru Thirimanne told reporters on Thursday.

“Upul has been around for a long time and understands the demands of Test cricket.” Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera, who suffered a side strain on his debut in the second Test in Colombo, will undergo a fitness test before he is picked for the crucial match.

“Chameera is 50-50 for the Test,” said Thirimanne. “It is not yet certain if he will play.” Sri Lanka are planning a three-man pace attack, instead of two as in the previous Tests, on a greenish Pallekele stadium pitch that should favour seam movement on the opening day. “It’s a good wicket for batting, but it does help the fast bowlers at the start,” said Thirimanne. “We may play three seamers and just one spinner.”

Veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who managed to take just two wickets in the first two Tests, is likely to be dropped, leaving young off-break bowler Tharindu Kaushal as the chief spin option.