Pitch report: Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo

Australia

This ground is not one you want to be playing on if you're a match behind in a series, and Pakistan's less than stellar pace attack will need all the help they can get on this draw magnet of a deck.

<b>Established:</b> 1915<br><b>Capacity:</b> 10,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> No<br><b>Ends:</b> Tennis Courts End, South End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Sinhalese Sports Club<br><b>Test History:</b> 37 Tests; 17 home wins; 6 away wins; 14 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 3 home wins; 7 draws<br><b>Last 10 tosses:</b> 6 batted first (2 wins, 1 loss, 3 draws); 4 bowled first (1 win, 3 draws)

<b>Overview</b><br>The Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, although overhauled by the R Premadasa Stadium as Colombo's main cricket venue, remains the headquarters of Sri Lanka Cricket – and was formerly known as Maitland Place. The ground still features many of the original grass banks for spectators, but the giant scoreboard and sightscreens are the most striking sights around the oval.

The venue has been owned by the SSC since 1952 – and was used as an Allied air base during the Second World War. The latest addition is the large media centre that dominates one end of the ground.

Original club membership was limited to Sinhalese men, who kept traditional British customs in terms of dress, grammar and table manners – as they drank fine scotch and held ballroom dancing evenings.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test at this venue was just two weeks ago, when South Africa and the hosts played to a draw, with the Proteas needing to bat out the final day to salvage the stalemate.

The track was a spinner's paradise, and it was not exciting in the slightest from day three onwards, with Mahela Jayawardene's 150-plus score seemingly using up all the good batting in the pitch.

South Africa had to battle from beginning to end, with skipper Hashim Amla making a gritty, slow century to keep his side in the match, and then again playing a low scoring marathon knock on day five to save the side.

<b>They Said</b><br>Kumar Sangakkara during the Test against SA: "It's a slightly different wicket here. Bit quicker than it used to be, probably because they relaid the wicket. There seems to be a lot more rough than I remember at SSC. Good hard rough as well."

SA skipper Hashim Amla after the match: It was a tough battle, lasting 110 overs on that wicket with quality spinners was credit to the guys."

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews: "It was a different wicket, not the normal SSC, it was pretty sportive, the batters had to work hard, not the normal flat wicket where it becomes a batting paradise after the first couple of sessions."

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Mahela Jayawardene will be playing his final Test here, a fitting end to his career given he is the top scorer at the venue. He and Kumar Sangakkara are the only players with more than 2000 runs here, with Mahela nearing 3000.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews also enjoys batting here, with a century and three fifties in six innings. For Pakistan, Misbah-ul-Haq is their best representative here, but he's only got two Tests to his name at the SSC, with a top score of 66 not out.

Bowling-wise, Rangana Herath is the leading current wicket taker, third on the list, but a whopping 124 wickets behind leading man Muttiah Muralitharan. Saeed Ajmal is Pakistan's best current player, with six wickets in two games.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>There are thunder showers forecast for each of the five days, but hopefully they only arrive in the evening, as the rain did on day five in Galle. They'll want to try and get as close to a result as they can within four days, as the final day is set for rain all day.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>This ground is not one you want to be playing on if you're a match behind in a series, and Pakistan's less than stellar pace attack will need all the help they can get on this draw magnet of a deck. Even with the track made for spin, the most recent game showed that application from the batsmen could produced resistance, if not runs, and the battle will be between Herath and Ajmal to determine a winner, if any.

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