Sangakkara starting afresh
Sri Lanka eyeing Twenty20 response in Nagpur
Last Updated: 08/12/09 10:46am
Sangakkara: Twenty20 focus
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has urged his players to erase the memories of their Test series defeat to India with victory in the opening Twenty20 international in Nagpur.
Sangakkara's side take on their sub-continent rivals in the first of two Twenty20 matches on Wednesday having failed to secure their first Test victory on Indian soil.
Sri Lanka crashed to a 2-0 defeat in the recent three-Test series, a result which saw them slip from second to fourth in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.
"We have to try and put the Test series behind us," Sangakkara said.
"We have a lot of hard work to do all around to keep improving and we have a good opportunity in these two Twenty20 games.
"The motivation is always there, but we need to start from scratch."
Sri Lanka showed their potential in the 20-over format by reaching the final of the ICC World Twenty20 in England in June.
Defeat to Pakistan that day saw their charge for silverware come up short, however with explosive batsmen such as Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan at their disposal, Sangakkara's side are a real force in the shorter format.
Chamara Kapugedera is also expected to return to the middle-order which also comprises of Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and Sangakkara himself, all making for a strong batting order.
Sangakkara, who will resume wicketkeeping duties to ensure a better balance in the team, has admitted he is concerned with the lack of bowling quality.
"Our bowling lacked penetration in the Tests," he added.
"If you can't tie a batsman down for more than an over from one side, it becomes very difficult to exert continuous pressure," he said.
Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has all but ruled himself out of the Twenty20 games due to a finger injury sustained during a warm-up football game in practice during the Test series.
"Two ligaments are damaged in the finger and it will take a few days to recover," Muralitharan said.
"I don't think I will be fit for the Twenty20s," he said.
The availability of paceman Lasith Malinga should provide Sangakkara with some relief, while the uncapped Muthumudalige Pushpakumara along with Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara and spinner Ajantha Mendis provides the skipper with enough options.
India, winners of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa two years ago, have struggled to replicate such form since then.
They lost both matches in a series away to New Zealand earlier this year and also failed to progress beyond the first round in the 2009 showpiece in England.
India have three uncapped players in the side - off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and medium-pacers Ashok Dinda and Sudeep Tyagi - to complement pacemen Ashish Nehra, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma.
A lively atmosphere is once again expected inside the the VCA Stadium after all 45,000 tickets were sold within a couple of days of going on sale.