Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara on Monday ruled pacer Dammika Prasad out of the second cricket Test against India and said mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis is very much in his scheme of things for the match.
Prasad, who prised out the scalps of VVS Laxman and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Ahmedabad Test, had strained his hamstring there and Sangakkara said the team was not considering the 26-year-old right-arm pacer even though there was no such apprehension about in-form batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan who broke his nose while playing football.
"Dilshan broke his nose but is perfectly fine now. Dammika strained his hamstring and is recovering well. (But we are) not considering him at this moment," Sangakkara said.
Muttiah Muralitharan shared the spin responsibility with Rangana Herath in Ahmedabad with little success and Sangakkara said chances are that Mendis would break into the playing XI.
"Ajantha is always in the reckoning. With the confidence and balance our team has, we can play three spinners if we want to. Or we can also replace Dammika Prasad with another fast bowler. Or we can also change a spinner. We have quite a few combinations on mind and it would take a concrete shape by the evening," he said.
Sangakkara conceded Muralitharan's below-par show in Ahmedabad was "unusual" but dismissed suggestions that Sri Lanka paid the price for their over-dependence on the wily off-spinner.
"When you have world's leading wicket-taker in your side, you got to depend on him. There cannot be any second question about that. Murali has done it for us for years, like Sanath (Jayasuriya) and (Chaminda) Vaas. But the great thing about our team is that we have great supporting players as well. Murali had Vaas, Herath and Mendis to do that.
"And I don't thing Murali struggled in Ahmedabad. He has been a match-winner all the time," Sangakkara asserted.
"Cricket is a team game. If one player fails to deliver, others have to chip in. We believe in all our players and think they are good enough. We often look forward to the part-timers like Dilshan chipping in with wickets. At the end of the day, it has to be a team effort," he added.
The Motera track in Ahmedabad drew flak for being so placid that nearly 1600 runs were scored, including seven centuries, while just 21 wickets fell over five days. A miffed Harbhajan Singh called it a bad advertisement for Test cricket but Sangakkara refused to make a fuss over it.
"Well, the track was quite placid but we have to back ourselves to do well on all kind of surfaces. You have to keep trying. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But if you keep trying, chances of happenings are high," he said.
In comparison, the track here at the Green Park looked livelier but Sangakkara still reserved his verdict.
"Maybe it has more grass on it but it's quite dry underneath. Unless you play, you don't know," he said.
Looking back at the Ahmedabad Test, Sangakkara felt India did well to salvage a draw when a defeat seemed imminent. Talking about his team, the Sri Lankan captain singled out stumper-batsman Prasanna Jayawardene for special praise.
"Prasanna is a much better wicket-keeper than I am. I was lucky to play as wicketkeeper, whereas he was unlucky. He made his debut before me as well.
"He took the responsibility with a smile and stepped up to the challenge. I hope he keeps getting the runs, more so because other players are also knocking on the door," added Sangakkara. PTI