ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday October 7, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 19

Lokuarachchi may get the nod today

Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from Dambulla

Right arm leg spinning all-rounder Kaushal Lokuarachchi is likely to get the nod in today’s third ODI against the English visitors at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium, today with the series reading a tentative 1-all.

Kaushal Lokuarachchi

Last evening Lokuarachchi was having a batting knock at the nets which gives a good indication that the Lankan selectors were having a closer look at him.

Meanwhile the Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardena too did not rule out a likely change. Mahela said “There may be a change in the line-up tomorrow, but it all depends upon the prevailing conditions at the time. However I must stress that even if there is a change it will not be done because we lost the second match, but, purely owing to the given conditions.

“We do have two spin options in Sanath Jayasuriya and T.M. Dilshan who are also top order batsmen and at the same time it is useful to have a four prong pace attack especially if you are defending a total in the evening session. They proved to be very useful in the first match which we won.

“Besides the above facts, proper cricket was not played at this venue for over two years and the wicket is still of unknown quantity. But, we are not worried that we lost the match on Thursday, the only thing that we can do is to learn from our mistakes and comeback.”

In the 17 matches that Sri Lanka has played at this venue, the hosts have a winning record as large as 13-4. Sri Lankan spinners have called the tune there, claiming 75 of the 146 wickets that have fallen.However, if Lokuarachchi gets the nod this afternoon it is likely that Lasith Malinga who did not bowl well in the first two games will sit out.

Muttiah Muralitharan is sidelined due to an injury in his bowling arm and is unlikely to take any part in this series unless the contest becomes very touchy.

All what Sri Lankan bowlers will have to consider today is that the top three English batsmen -- Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and skipper Collingwood will fail once again. Ian Bell, who scored a thumping hundred in the practice game in Colombo, scored only 18 runs. It's only Paul Collingwood who played an innings of substance to lay a winning foundation on Thursday, yet his score was 42.

Off spinner Graeme Swann has played an important role for the visiting team in the two finished matches.
( Pix Shantha Ratnayake)

In the meantime, ground authorities have laid a 85 meter boundary line, which is the largest ever in a one day international played in Sri Lanka.

National curator Mr. Anurudda Polonnowita said that the changing atmosphere in the evening will have an effect on the surface but the wicket will be good for batting. He has selected the same strip, on which Sri Lanka won the game on last Monday for today’s match. He said "There will be fair amount of bounce on the surface but slowness also will be an issue”.

Meanwhile after their practice session in the afternoon England captain Paul Collingwood said that he was very happy with the performance of his off spin bowler Graeme Swann so far and added that his left arm spinner Monty Panesar will now struggle to get back into England's one-day side” We know what Monty can do but Graeme is doing what is being asked of him and playing well. He's been very good. He changes his pace very well and just his overall contribution has been pretty special."

Sri Lanka Squad

Mahela Jayawardane (Cpt), Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Jehan Mubarak, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Gayan Wijekoon and Dilruwan Perera

England Squad

Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Monty Panesar, Kevin. Pietersen, Phill Musted, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann and Luke Wright.

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