PALLEKELE, Sept 7 (AP): Spinner Ajantha Mendis could be recalled and opening bowler Chanaka Welegedara forced out through injury as Sri Lanka ponders changes to its team ahead of the must-win second Test against Australia.
“We are expecting some changes in the side but we will decide the final team this evening,” captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said yesterday.
“Chanaka Welegedara also has a pain in his knee and his inclusion will depend on the outcome of a fitness test.”
Should Welegedara sit out the game, seamer Shaminda Eranga could make his Test debut tomorrow, having made his One-day International debut last month. Mendis is also expected to be recalled for Sri Lanka, which lost by 125 runs in the opening test. That put the hosts in a must-win situation in the three-match series if it is to notch only its second-ever series victory over Australia.
The pitch at Pallekele will be novel to both sides, with this Test being just the second on the ground, while the first saw little play due to rain.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen struggled in Galle, dismissed for 105 in the first innings on pitch rated poor by the match referee.
“All our batsmen know where they fell short but that was not a good pitch,” Dilshan said. “Here we have a good pitch for batting, good for test cricket. I hope our batsmen will be back among the runs and be a strength to the team.” Batsman Shaun Marsh is expected to make his Test debut for Australia, replacing former captain Ricky Ponting who has returned home for the birth of his second child.
The 28-year-old Marsh has played 35 ODIs and has a healthy 37-run average in first class cricket.
Marsh, who is accustomed to playing at the top of the batting order, should fill Ponting’s No.3 slot, meaning the team would not have to shuffle a batting order that performed strongly in the first Test. Apart from Marsh’s inclusion, the visitors were expected to retain the same lineup.