Island Cricket

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kumar Sangakkara optimistic of playing second Test

Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan vice-captain, is optimistic that he will be fit enough to make it to the final XI for the second Test against Australia, which starts in Hobart on November 16.

"I feel quite good, my rehab has gone well and I have started running almost at full pace and hopefully I'll be able to sustain it for five days," Sangakkara said after undergoing a fitness test with physio Tommy Simsek, the report of which is due on Thursday.

Sangakkara, who was ruled out of the first Test following a tear in his left hamstring, emphasised the importance of the first-innings score after Sri Lanka's innings-and-40-run defeat in the first Test.

"To win a Test match, you need to get runs in the first innings, that's why we lost the game in Brisbane. We showed a lot of character in the second innings, but we need to make sure that we are in our game all the time. The bowlers stuck to their task. There are few areas we can brush up.

"We have always been honest with ourselves. If we didn't do well, we put up our hands and say we didn't do well. We know we can do a lot better than that. There are a lot of things we could have done better, especially with our catching. We are always used to putting up good efforts with the bat. Whatever the pitch we need to go out there and get the runs. They never come easy when you are playing a side like Australia."

If Sangakkara gets the all clear, Sri Lanka's struggling batting line-up will receive a boost. It could also give the tour selectors a headache or two to decide on the batting combinations for the match. If Sangakkara makes it, he is expected to occupy the No. 3 spot, which was filled in by Michael Vandort for the Brisbane Test. Vandort, who has failed to command a regular place in the side, seized his chance with both hands to make 82, the top score by a Sri Lankan batsman in the Test.

The Hobart match could also be a significant one for Muttiah Muralitharan, who needs seven wickets to surpass Shane Warne's world record of 708 Test wickets. Sangakkara said "it would make it very special" if he achieved the milestone in Hobart.

"Murali has been fantastic in the sense that everything he does, he does for the team. His records have never stood in the way of team victories," Sangakkara said. "He's getting stronger and hopefully will go on for more years. In this game, we need to make sure that we support him as much as possible from the other end to make sure that he gets to that milestone."

Cricinfo

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