Victorious Sri Lanka turn focus on India

COLOMBO: Having toyed with Pakistan and New Zealand, Kumar Sangakkara’s Sri Lanka are eyeing India as their next scalp as the battle heats up to be the world’s top Test team.

Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan and New Zealand by identical 2-0 margins at home to climb to the number two spot in the official rankings with a rating of 120 behind number one team South Africa’s 122.

With India just one rating point behind Sri Lanka on 119 and Ashes losers Australia in fourth place with 116, the scramble at the top could see a new number one by the end of the year.

Sri Lanka need to win their three-Test series in India in November-December to overtake South Africa, while a 2-0 win for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will push India to the top.

Sri Lanka have never won a Test match in India, let alone a series, in seven previous visits across the Palk Straits, with eight losses and six draws since their first Test there in Chennai in 1982.

It’s a record Sangakkara, who has won four of his five Tests as captain since taking over from Mahela Jayawardene earlier this year, is determined to set straight.

‘The Indian tour will test everyone, mentally, physically and skill wise,’ he told reporters.

‘But if we do our homework right, be confident, prepare as best as we can and go out there looking to win, and if our attitude is positive, we will do well.’ When they last played a series in India in December, 2005, Sri Lanka lost the second Test in New Delhi by 188 runs and the third in Ahmedabad by 259 runs after the first game in Chennai was washed out.

‘One likes to play against the best and India will definitely be a tough side to conquer,’ said Sangakkara.

‘It is not easy playing Test cricket in India.’ Both sides get a chance to gauge each other’s strengths when India join New Zealand and Sri Lanka in a limited-overs tri-series in Colombo from September 8-14.

India and Sri Lanka are drawn in different group for the Champions Trophy in South Africa in late-September, but could meet in the semi-finals if they qualify after the preliminary round.— AFP

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