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Colombo: New-look pitch leaves Sri Lanka, India guessing

Colombo: India and Sri Lanka were left to ponder the behaviour of an unusually greenish wicket as they delayed naming their line-ups for the decisive final Test starting here today.

SL skipper Angelo Mathews. Pic/AFP
SL skipper Angelo Mathews. Pic/AFP 

The traditionally high-scoring pitch at the Sinhalese sports club (SSC) has undergone a dramatic change in appearance from a brown, flat track to a moisture-laden one that sports a tinge of grass.

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews refused to hazard a guess on the relaid pitch even though the last time the hosts played a Test at the SSC a year ago, they swamped Pakistan by 105 runs to break a sequence of four successive draws since 2009. "After being relaid the wicket has a bit more carry," he said.

"As of now, there's a bit of grass on the wicket. You can't really predict a wicket 100 per cent. We just have to play it by the ear.

"It looks a sporting wicket. We just have to play positive cricket."

The series is tied 1-1 after Sri Lanka won the opening Test in Galle by 63 runs and India drew level with a thumping 278-run win in the second match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo on Monday. The Test marks the start of a new era in Sri Lankan cricket following the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara after the second Test.

Upal replaces Sanga
Mathews confirmed that the 134-Test veteran Sangakkara will be replaced by another left-hander Upul Tharanga, who has played 20 Tests, but admitted Sri Lanka were undecided on the rest of the team. "We still have not found the best combination," the Sri Lankan captain told reporters yesterday.

India, seeking their first series win in Sri Lanka in 22 years, will also not reveal their playing 11 till they had assessed the wicket before the toss, team director Ravi Shastri said. "It's far from being a finished product yet," Shastri told reporters after inspecting the pitch before practice yesterday.

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