Dimuth Karunaratne’s Sri Lanka will look to bounce back in the second Test starting Sunday against an upbeat Pakistan team that is fresh off a morale-boosting win.
But the tourists have been hit by an injury to pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who played a key part in the team’s four-wicket victory on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka have witnessed contrasting results at the Galle International Stadium in the past three weeks, and now head into their sixth straight Test at the venue since November.
In the first of their two Tests against Australia at the ground earlier this month, the hosts first lost inside three days on a vicious turner, then bounced back to beat the tourists on a radically different wicket to end the series level at 1-1.
For the first Test against Pakistan, the pitch was once again entirely different, with little help for the spinners, even on the final two days, when Asian tracks usually turn.
“There was a big difference in the wicket we played against Australia and here,” Sri Lanka vice-captain Dhananjaya de Silva said.
“Normally on a Galle pitch the fourth and fifth days don’t help the batsmen.” Left-arm spinner Pra-bath Jayasuriya has stood out since his debut in the second Australia Test, where he got a match haul of 12 wickets.
He then bamboozled Pakistan with a total of nine wickets in the opening Test of this series. But de Silva, an all-rounder who bowls off-spin, said Jayasuriya got little support from the other end against Pakistan.
“Only Prabath bowled a consistent line and length and we leaked runs from the other two spin-ners,” said de Silva.
“It is difficult to keep a tight field when you are leaking runs from one side.” Mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana has been ruled out due to a finger injury and de Silva may be expected to play a bigger role with the ball alongside Ramesh Mendis and Jayasuriya.
Batsman Pathum Nissanka returns to the team after he contracted Covid in the middle of the second Australia Test.
The venue was shifted from Colombo to Galle due to the political unrest in Sri Lanka, and it is the hosts’ final Test of the season, with their next red-ball series a tour to New Zealand in March.
– ‘Remain positive’ –
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam believes Jayasuriya remains Sri Lanka’s “main weapon” but was confi-dent in his batsmen’s ability.—AFP