Pakistan seek revival in Sri Lanka's den
Jun 29 2012 - 12:48:00
Pakistan are confident of bouncing back in the second Test against Sri Lanka starting on Saturday despite playing the crucial game at the hosts' favourite venue.
Sri Lanka, who lead 1-0 in the three-match series, have not lost a Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo since 2004 and have won six of their last 11 matches there.
It was at the same venue in 2006 against South Africa that current Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene and senior pro Kumar Sangakkara put on Test cricket's world record partnership of 624.
Sangakkara scored 287 and Jayawardene made 374 as Sri Lanka won by an innings and 153 runs against a South African attack that included Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn and Andre Nel.
But Misbah-ul Haq, returning as Pakistan captain after missing the first Test in Galle due to a one-match ban for slow over-rates, was unfazed by the hosts' ominous record at the SSC.
"We know Sri Lanka play well at home, they know the conditions well," he said. "But this is a new Test match and both sides will go out there to win."
Misbah wanted his team to get over the massive 209-run defeat at Galle, where the tourists were bowled out for 100 in the first innings, and concentrate on the two Tests ahead.
"We have to forget the past and be positive going into the match," he said. "This is how cricket goes, you just can't afford to remember the games you have lost.
"I am confident this team can come back hard and win matches. We have shown that in the last couple of years."
Pakistan had won seven of their last nine Tests before the Galle defeat, an impressive run that included a 3-0 whitewash of top-ranked England in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.
Jayawardene conceded Sri Lanka liked playing at the SSC, but warned that bowlers would find it difficult to take 20 match-winning wickets on what promises to be a good batting pitch.
"You do feel confident at a venue where you have done well in the past, but it's not about one particular ground," he said. "We don't like to be beaten at home.
"It's a new game and we know that Pakistan will come hard at us. We have to be on our toes."
Jayawardene said his team wanted to target Pakistan's bowling attack to secure their first Test series win since beating New Zealand 2-0 at home in 2009.
Sri Lanka did well to dent the rivals' confidence at Galle by scoring 472 in the first innings on the back of an unbeaten 199 from Sangakkara and 101 by Tillakaratne Dilshan.
"I read in the papers that it was their bowling against our batting and we have won that battle till now," he said. "If we can put runs on the board, we can probably put their batting under pressure.
"That has been our gameplan, there is no secret about it."
Pakistan's spinners claimed 11 of the 14 Sri Lankan wickets to fall to the bowlers at Galle, with prolific off-spinner Saeed Ajmal picking up seven in the match.
But the batting failed spectacularly in the first innings and only veteran Younis Khan (87) and young Asad Shafiq (80) provided any real resistance in the second.