Colombo: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday refused to reveal whether Suresh Raina will retain his place in team for the third Test, starting tomorrow, or will make way for fit-again Yuvraj Singh.
Raina made a sensational debut in the second Test by scoring a century and the kind of form he is in, the team management would not like to drop the diminutive southpaw.
But Raina earned his first Test cap because of an indisposed Yuvraj, who is now fit to play.
Asked who will get the nod tomorrow, Dhoni chose to keep the cards close to his chest.
“That’s a difficult one. You (reporters) have a half-an-hour serial to run today and tomorrow. So I will protect the decision till tomorrow morning,” he said at the pre-match press conference.
India are in a must-win situation in the third Test having lost the first match and Dhoni said they will have to play out of their skin to salvage the series.
“We are 1-0 down so the best we can do is level this series. It will be a big challenge. We have to maintain whatever momentum we got from the second Test. We have to see that the result of the Test is in our favour,” Dhoni said.
“We will have to be the team that takes the extra initiative because even if the third Test ends in a draw Sri Lanka win the series. We have to be careful about how aggressive we can get but at the same time you have to see what’s the best you can do in this Test match,” he added.
Talking about the P Sara Oval wicket, the India stumper said the pitch would favour the pacers early on and will also help the spinners as the match progresses.
“There is a bit of grass on the wicket but it’s not green. It looked very different yesterday from what it is now. There may be bit of bounce. We thought the same about the pitch at SSC, but there was nothing for the fast bowlers.
“We are hoping because the stands are a bit low, there will be a bit of breeze blowing, which may be in the favor of the fast bowlers. But I think that as the game progresses, the spinners might get some bounce with turn,” he said.
Dhoni was unsure what bowling combination would suit them in the crucial contest.
“It doesn’t look like an outright seaming track where you will get lot of help. You also have to see if overall the spinners can benefit you or the fast bowlers. We will have a discussion over it with senior players and the coach but as if now, it’s a bit unlikely that we will play with a 3-1 attack,” Dhoni said.
The 29-year-old skipper hoped his bowlers will be able to extract some reverse swing from the pitch.
“We have not been able to get the reverse swing going. One of the reasons being, that we have bowled on the fresh track as we lost both the tosses. To get the kookaburra ball to reverse is a bit difficult unless the wicket is scuffed up or is dry,” Dhoni said.
“But in this game we are hoping that we can get the reverse swing going because it really helps the fast bowlers to get wicket in middle of the innings,” he added.
Dhoni also eulogised Sachin Tendulkar who will become the most capped batsman in Test history when he will walk out in the middle for his 169th match.
“It’s a proud feeling. We speak so much about Sachin. When he is on the field he can really make the difference. His impact on the dressing room is great. The way he helps the youngsters, the way he can help you make strategies, its really amazing,” Dhoni said.
“As a cricketer he is great. You have fellow cricketers who are as great, you have opponents who are as good as player as he is but the one thing that sets him apart is that he is very humble.
“The way he prepares for the game, the way he helps the youngsters, all these small-small things that matter for him. He takes pride in performing all these acts,” he added.
Dhoni hoped Tendulkar comes up with a century in the third Test to help the side once again.
“For the past 20 years he has been doing that, very consistent. Whatever happens, when he turns up on the field, he gives 200 per cent commitment. I just hope there is plenty more to come for him in the Test and ODIs. Hopefully he comes up with a big score in this game,” he said.