SL eager to maintain impressive record

Colombo, July 22:

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene said Sri Lanka are keen to maintain their impressive home record when they take on India in a three-Test series, starting here on Wednesday.

The hosts have won home series against South Africa, England and the West Indies in the past four years and in the same period have lost just one match in 16 at home — against Pakistan two years ago.

Jayawardene said pride was the key to success. He denied there was more pressure on his side to win the series against India, who have quality batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Venkatsai Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag. “If you can’t do well at home, that will be an issue because we have grown up in these conditions and the guys are thriving on that pressure.”

Sri Lanka’s latest spin sensation Ajantha Mendis looks set to make his Test debut, especially after his match-winning performance of 6-13 against India in the Asia Cup final this month in Karachi. Jayawardene said it would be a big opportunity for youngsters to deliver against an experienced India team.

India captain Anil Kumble said his team was not focusing on Mendis alone as the hosts had proven match-winners in Muralitharan and Vaas. “We respect every bowler. Let’s not forget it will be his (Mendis) first Test match. As a youngster when you play your first Test you’re obviously nervous,” said Kumble.

Kumble said they had the right combination to succeed on a challenging tour. India lost 2-1 on their last Test tour of Sri Lanka in 2001, when Kumble and Tendulkar were both unavailable due to injuries.

Skippers welcome trial

COLOMBO: India skipper Anil Kumble and Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene welcomed an experimental rule allowing players to seek a second opinion on umpiring decisions. The rule, which will trial during the three-Test series here, allows a batsman or fielding captain to request a review of any decision by referring it to the third official monitoring television replays. Each team will be allowed three unsuccessful review requests per innings and if one is successful they will get an additional appeal. The ICC decided to trial the review in March, but it was delayed after England and South Africa failed to reach an agreement. — AFP