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Sri Lanka rely on pace attack to rattle Indians

CRICKET: Sri Lanka will be hoping to rattle the Indians through sheer pace when the two teams clash in the first of the four one day internationals under lights at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata here on Thursday.

The Lankans have made vast strides in their bowling department in the past and this will be a great opportunity for them to bounce back against the Asian giants. They have worked a lot where their bowling attack is concerned and this has been the main reason behind their recent success both in England and New Zealand.

The entry of fast bowler Lasith Malinga has added a new dimension into the Sri Lankan attack and now they are beginning to make it a habit of winning matches in overseas. The 23 year old paceman turned out to be a tremendous success in New Zealand and his unpredictability has caused many doubts on the minds of several batsmen.

Malinga has captured a total of 71 wickets in 21 tests and a further 37 victims from his 25 one dayers with his unusual square arm slinging action making the batsmen find difficult to read. He is certain to be Sri Lanka’s main weapon in this four match series in the absence of stalwarts Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan.

The other plus factor is that Malinga has the ability of bowling at a speed of over 150 kilo metres per hour quite regularly and has a positive attitude backed up by his tremendous accuracy. Sri Lanka has now formed a strong pace attack with Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Nuwan Zoysa and Farveez Maharoof providing the back up support.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena said that the team’s confidence is very high because they have played good cricket during the last six months. “We have been improving steadily and are looking forward to win the series which will boost our morale ahead of the World Cup” added Jayawardena.

The Sri Lankan captain also stressed the importance of this series as any kind of cricket before a big tournament is good because the players tend to keep the good habits and the more cricket they play the better prepared they are. In fact the Indian team will come out straight after a successful series against the West Indies where they triumphed 3-1.

The Indians are well aware that their opponents had struggled in their last two visits where they were humiliated 1-6 and also failed to reach the semifinals of the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy Mini World Cup last year. In fact Sri Lanka’s overall record in India is not so impressive and they have triumphed only on nine occasions from 33 outings.

In contrast at home the Lankans have dominated with a total of 19 wins from their 34 matches and have lost only on nine occasions. In the overall tally Sri Lanka are trailing with 35 victories against India’s 47 wins with eight no results.

But since then Sri Lanka have really forced themselves into recognition with their outstanding performances in England and New Zealand. Not only that there are few other players who are really fighting for a place in the World Cup squad and the opening two matches in the series could be really important.

Sri Lanka will play their second one dayer on February 11 at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket ground in Rajkot and the World Cup squads have to be named by February 13.

Meanwhile Virender Sehwag and Munaf Patel are expected to make a comeback and make their appearance after being sidelined due to injuries. Munaf has been cleared of his fitness troubles, and was declared fully fit by John Gloster, the physiotherapist of the Indian team. Munaf last played for India in a Test against South Africa.

The teams: Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Marvan Atapattu, Russell Arnold, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Upul Chandana, Farveez Maharoof, Malinga Bandara, Nuwan Zoysa, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Lasith Malinga.

India (from): Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, M.S. Dhoni, R Uthappa, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Virender Sehwag, S. Sreesanth.

KOLKATA, Wednesday

 

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