PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka will get a glimpse of a future without their batting greats when the decisive third and final Test against Pakistan begins in Pallekele on Friday.
For the first time in 15 years since Kumar Sangakkara’s debut in July 2000, Sri Lanka will take the field in a Test without either him or Mahela Jayawardene in the ranks.
Sangakkara, Test cricket’s leading current run-getter, committed himself to playing just two Tests against Pakistan and two more against India in August before retiring.
Jayawardene quit a year ago, leaving Angelo Mathews’ men the unenviable task of going into the decider at the Pallekele International Stadium with a young, inexperienced batting unit.
Mathews is now the leader of the pack with 48 Test appearances, but none of the other frontline batsmen have reached the 20-match mark.
“It’s obviously going to be difficult to fill Mahela and Sanga’s shoes,” said Mathews. “It will take time. Most of the time we won’t get the result we want, individually, or as a team. But we’ve got to be patient with them.”
Upul Tharanga, Jehan Mubarak and Kusal Perera are waiting in the wings to fill the number three position vacated by Sangakkara, who has 12,305 runs from 132 Tests.
Sri Lanka won the second Test at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo by seven wickets on Monday to level the series after Pakistan had take the first match in Galle by 10 wickets.
Both Mathews and his counterpart Misbah-ul Haq promised an entertaining finale at Pallekele, with both captains insisting they will play aggressive cricket in a bid to clinch the series.
“We are going for a win,” said Mathews. “We won’t be happy with a draw. Whatever the outcome of the game is, we have just got to play positive cricket.”