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Rediff.com  » Sports » Images: India, Sri Lanka prepare for battle at Brabourne

Images: India, Sri Lanka prepare for battle at Brabourne

Last updated on: November 30, 2009 20:58 IST

Sri Lanka eyes history

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Sri Lanka were comprehensively beaten by India in the second Test in Kanpur on Friday. But the island nation will be looking to level the series with a victory in the third Test, which commences, at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai, on Wednesday.

The Lankans have never won a Test on Indian soil and can create history by winning the final match of the three-Test series.

Test cricket returns to the Brabourne after a 36-year hiatus. India hosted England in the last of Brabourne's 17 Tests in February, 1973.

The Brabourne stadium was given the Sri Lanka Test because the Wankhede is being renovated for the 2011 World Cup.

It was due to stage the Test against England last year, but the match was moved following the Mumbai terror attacks in November.


Image: Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara pads up before a practice session in Mumbai on Monday
Photographs: Reuters
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Lankans need to fire

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So far, batsman have dominated the series. But in the second Test the Sri Lankans were found wanting in every department.

They will hope to win the toss and fire with the bat early on, if they have to throw a substantial challenge India's way.

The bowling and fielding was also suspect and it will take a lot of courage from Kumar Sangakkara and his boys to fight back in the Mumbai Test.


Image: Sangakkara (right) stretches as physio Tommy Simsek assists Jayawardene during a training session on Monday

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Murali flop show worrisome

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Spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan remains a real cause for concern, the world record holder managing just five wickets at a cost of 396 runs in the series.

Sangakkara, however, is confident that Muralitharan can recover and play a starring role in what will be his final Test away from home.

"He is still the best bowler that has played the game," Sangakkara said.

"So you still have to have faith in him and trust him and keep backing him 100 per cent to do the job because he is going to do it at one point," he added.


Image: Muttiah Muralitharan bowls at the nets during practice on Monday

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Lankans remain hopeful

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Sangakkara and his boys have lots to do. First they have to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to them.

And Sangakkara is hopeful of turning things around.

"We have still got a lot to achieve in Mumbai. Whether we can win the series or not, we can still equal the series and finish the series 1-1.

"That is a great motivation for us," he said.


Image: Sangakkara (left) and Mahela Jayawardene go through the grind during a training session on Monday

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Top ranking beckons India

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India are well positioned to win the series 2-0. An added incentive is that they will reach the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time if they win the Test.

India are currently third on the world rankings, behind South Africa (first) and Sri Lanka (second), but close enough to leapfrog them both with a victory in Mumbai.


Image: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid bat in the nets on Monday

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'We've got to maintain our performance level'

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Surging to the No 1 spot will be a major boost for the Indian team, but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is only focussed on the upcoming Test.

"Becoming the number one side is not important, we've got to maintain our performance level," Dhoni said.

India's chances of beating the Sri Lankans have suffered a blow with in-form opener Gautam Gambhir, the world's top-ranked batsman, pulling out of the match to attend his sister's wedding.

Gambhir will be replaced by Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay, who's only played the one Test against Australia last year.


Image: Virender Sehwag has a light batting session in the nets, as skipper MS Dhoni looks on

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Rigorous practice for Indians

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With the Indians looking at a big win, they had an intense practice session on Monday.

The 14-strong Indian team came in the afternoon and had a two-and-a-half hour session with usual warm-up routines before a net session.

They will be hoping that all the work put in during those sessions will bear positive results.


Image: Indian players during a training session on Monday

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