A daunting task ahead for Lankans
Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from England
In the face of the crushing defeat at the hands of the England team with a day to spare the task of saving their face against a depleted English team seem a more daunting task for the young Sri Lankan team who are still trying to come terms with the freezing conditions and the moving ball.

In this match their problems were compounded as both opener Michael Vandort and generally reliable Thilan Samaraweera bagged pairs’. Now the tour selectors have their hands full to fill in the blanks for the first Test that is scheduled to begin at Lords on Thursday.

Initially twenty-one-year old Tharanga injected confidence to the touring party by scoring a hundred against the British Universities in the tour opener at Fenners. That was his first appearance with the national team on English soil and his tall partner at the other end, Michael Vandort, too showed his mettle against Derbyshire by scoring a match winning 90 in the second innings.
Teenager Chamara Kapugedara scored 151 runs in the first two matches with a crucial 45 and 44 at Derby, where Sri Lanka came from behind to beat the time and experienced set of pros.

This is a ray of hope for Sri Lankans in this series. In other words, it's the opener's duty to put the shine off from the new ball and put a solid foundation for their innings. Mahela Jayawardane and Kumar Sangakkara have much more important responsibilities as the skipper and deputy, apart from the being the two most senior batsmen of the team.

As Coach Tom Moody very correctly said at the start of the tour: "The door is open for a couple of youngsters who could be the future of Sri Lankan cricket." However, this series is going to be a test of character for Sri Lankan batsmen after their poor show at New Road.

Muttiah Muralitharan will fly back to England today to join his team mates after paying the last respect to his beloved aunt. While Sri Lankans enjoying the news that five of the top English players are down with injuries, including regular skipper Michael Vaughan and the top three fast bowlers, English chairman of selectors David Graveney has had more than one sleepless nights.
Andrew Flintoff, who led England to a 1-1 series tie in India, is tipped to captain.

Paul Collingwood or Alistair Cook look to fill Vaughans’ gap as a batsman. Collingwood stood in for Vaughan during last winter and Alistair Cook hit a century on his debut in India. Without having the service of top three pace-bowlers the English selectors look for replacements. At such a time, John Lewis, who took 6 for 49 and two for 30 at New Road for England 'A' against Sri Lanka, is pushing a very strong case?


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