Looking for another feather in the cap
By Marlon Fernandopulle
Riding on the crest of a wave of success Sri Lanka led by Marvan Atapattu will come out to the Premadasa Stadium once again eager to keep the momentum going and deliver the knock-out punch to Graeme Smith's South Africans when the two teams meet in the second one day International today.

Buoyed by the success in the test series and the thrilling victory on Friday night the Lankans are on a high after winning twelve of their last thirteen games. However the Lankans are aware that their opponents are capable of bouncing back. They will be all out to go two up in the five match one day series which moves to Dambulla this week for two more games. One of the plus factors in Marvan Atapattu's team lately has been the team effort that has featured in their recent run of success. As admitted by the skipper it has been a collective effort by the boys where at least one of the players have come good. This was very evident in their victory in the first one dayer when none of the big guns came up with big contributions. Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene failed with the bat but fifties from Avishka Gunawardene and Atapattu and some invaluable cameos from Dilshan and Vaas saw the Lankans chasing 264 successfully on a docile Premadasa wicket.

In the absence of their champion off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, medium pacer Chaminda Vaas has taken over the responsibility. Playing in the shadow of Muralitharan, Vaas has been one cricketer who can be described as the back street boy of Sri Lanka Cricket. There is hardly a match that is played without Vaas getting that all important breakthrough and later adding a couple of crucial wickets in the middle to upset the opposition. Bowling at the death has today become his forte. Even if he does not get a couple of wickets his ability to contain the batsmen in the last few overs has been a tremendous boost for the Lankans.

As he proved it on Friday night the left arm medium pacer picked up Hershelle Gibbs before he opened scoring and later added three more wickets that saw the Lankans restrict their opponents to 264. Later with the bat the allrounder hit 18 runs and struck a crucial 33-run partnership for the 6th wicket that saw the Lankans home. His effort was rewarded when he was adjudged the man of the match.

The Lankans are very unlikely to make any changes to their winning combination. However one factor that the Lankans will be contemplating is the playing of three medium pacers on a Premadsa wicket which does not offer anything to such bowlers. With the ball not swinging as expected under the lights on Friday, Sri Lanka may look at including another batsman instead of a medium pacer.

South Africa will be smarting after their defeats in the tests and the first one dayer. They did everything right in the first game, winning the toss, putting up a challenging total and even seeing the back of Sri Lanka’s top order batsmen. However as skipper Smith admitted they were unable to contain the singles midway in the Sri Lankan innings that eventually led to their defeat.

Today they will be looking at a few changes to their line up. It's strange that the South Africans have only one specialist spinner Nicky Boje in their line up. While the Lankans went in with two specialist spinners and two more part time spinners the South Africans had only Boje as a spinner. With the wicket at Premadasa not going to be any different today Graeme Smith will certainly be looking at adding another specialist spinner to their line up.


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