Sri Lanka are determined to prevent a Pakistan resurgence as they seek their first Test series win in three years when the second match starts in Colombo on Saturday.
The hosts will start as firm favourites at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) after thumping Pakistan by 209 runs with a day to spare in the first Test in Galle to take the lead in the three-match series.
Sri Lanka have not won a Test series since defeating New Zealand 2-0 at home in August 2009 and have struggled to make an impact after world record wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan quit the five-day format in 2010.
The islanders have lost five series and drawn three since the success against New Zealand -- twice allowing the opposition to bounce back after winning the opening encounter.
In 2010, Sri Lanka beat India in the first match in Galle -- Muralitharan’s final Test appearance -- before losing the third Test at the P Sara Oval in Colombo.
Then in March-April this year, the hosts triumphed over England at Galle, only to see Andrew Strauss’ men win the second and final Test at the P Sara Oval and retain their No.1 ranking.
Veteran skipper Mahela Jayawardene was wary of slipping on the proverbial banana skin again.
‘We have to be positive,’ he said. ‘There are two more matches to go and we need to put the Galle match behind and keep improving. We need to be a lot more consistent with bowling, batting and fielding.
‘A lot of hard work is required going into the next Test. We need to handle the conditions at SSC very well. We need to try and get on top of the opposition and keep the pressure.’
The SSC has proved a happy hunting ground for Sri Lanka, where they have not lost a Test since 2004, and have won six of their past 11 matches.
Pakistan will welcome back captain Misbah-ul Haq, who was banned for the Galle Test after his team’s slow over rate during the final one-dayer in Colombo on June 18.
The tourists need Misbah’s calming influence as skipper and also his presence in the middle-order after they were shot out for 100 and 300 in Galle on a spin-friendly pitch.
Pakistan will again bank on their spinners, who claimed 11 of the 14 Sri Lankan wickets to fall at Galle, with prolific offspinner Saeed Ajmal picking up seven in the match. (Sky news)