Malinga in doubt for final Test

Fast bowler fights to be fit as Sri Lanka's hopes of topping rankings are dashed.

    Malinga gets some practice in ahead of the final Test despite doubts over fitness [AFP]

    Sri Lanka are sweating on the fitness of Lasith Malinga as the fast bowler battles to recover from injury and illness ahead of the third and final Test against India in Colombo.

    Malinga took seven wickets in Sri Lanka's first victory in the three-match series at Galle, but was rested from the high-scoring second Test which ended in a draw on Friday after suffering knee soreness.

    Malinga, who also suffered a bout of fever, turned up at practice on Sunday under the watchful eye of selectors.

    "He didn't bowl with his full run up and bowled at half pace," said Sri Lanka chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva.

    "In the event Malinga doesn't pull through we'll have to decide who will spearhead the bowling attack from the remaining fast bowlers in the squad."

    Any hopes that Sri Lanka might dislodge India as the top Test nation with a 2-0 series win were dashed by revised ICC Test rankings.

    Dammika Prasad, who suffered from breathing problems and only bowled in short spells during the second Test is unlikely to come into consideration for Tuesday's start of play, while Dilhara Fernando showed little to impress the selectors with his pace.

    That leaves Sri Lanka with either left-armer Chanaka Welagedara or uncapped 23-year-old Nuwan Pradeep.

    Spinners Ajantha Mendis and Suraj Randiv took six wickets between them on the dead Singhalese SC track and are likely to retain their places ahead of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

    India were also relieved on Sunday to see opener Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar at training after a decision to rest them for the up-coming tri-series raised doubts about their fitness for the final Test.

    Tendulkar scored a double-century but missed the final day's play of the second Test with a groin strain, while Gambhir was left out due to swelling in his knee.

    Waugh record

    Tendulkar's selection would see him move past Steve Waugh's 168 Tests to become the most capped player in the world.

    Gambhir's availability, along with Yuvraj Singh, who missed the second Test due to a fever, has given India a selection headache after their replacements performed well.

    Murali Vijay scored a half-century and Suresh Raina, who replaced Yuvraj, struck a century on his Test debut.

    Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's major concern should be his bowling attack, however, which has failed to bowl a single side out this tour.

    "If it's always about bowlers turning up and taking 20-odd wickets on wickets that are in favour of the batsmen, it's not really possible," Dhoni said.

    "It's not the first time we are playing a Test match or a series where we haven't been able to get the batsmen out.

    "We play a lot of Tests, ODIs and with IPL (Indian Premier League) also coming in, we need fast bowlers who are fit, which means you need to have eight to 10 fast bowlers whom you can rotate around and still play with your best bowling attack."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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