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England brushes acrimony aside, Hussain looks to perfect winter win

COLOMBO, March 14 (AFP) - England is no longer whinging. Recovering from a woeful start, Skipper Nasser Hussain is pinning hopes on the deciding third and final test against Sri Lanka Thursday to make their winter wonderful.

After bitter complaints over poor rulings in the first test lost to Sri Lanka by an innings and 28 runs, it was the home side's turn to sulk when they lost by three wickets in the second test that saw umpiring hit new lows.

"Our attitudes won't change, we will play the game hard and play to win, I will trying my hardest to make sure we play the game right," said Hussain as they prepared for Thursday's test at the Sinhalese Sports Club grounds here.

"If we win or lose the toss tomorrow we've got to get the basics right. We had a pretty good winter. The winter will be decided on this Test match. We don't want to ruin it by a loss.

"It is nice to go into this Test with the series one-all and with the prospect of making 2-1 up for the winter in conditions we are not used to," Hussain said.

"Sri Lanka will come back at us. This is their main ground and they've got some good players. We'll have to be wary of them. This probably is the hottest ground we are going to play this winter."

He believes it will be challenging for the team to adopt to the hot and humid conditions here in contrast to the cooler weather in Kandy where they won by three wickets amid complaints of decisions going against Sri Lanka.

But, the team will have a morale boosting presence in the dressing room.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Lord MacLaurin will be there to witness the final test.

MacLaurin is expected to speak to Hussain about the acrimony between the two teams.

Bad umpiring has been the main cause of a war of words amongst players on the field giving the series a bad taste. Hussain is also fighting to get fit against a troubled groin injury.

He is confident that he will make it and has left the option of who is going to play in the number six position open to his fitness.

With Graeme Hick showing poor form with scores of 5, 6, 0 and 16, Michael Vaughan is expected to get his first Test of the series.

There is also the fitness of left-arm spinner Ashley Giles to contend with. Giles is carrying an achilles injury for a while and Hussain said they are keeping a close eye on him.

Sri Lanka are likely to blood 24-year-old left-arm spinner Dinuk Hettiarachchi. He is expected to replace all-rounder Kumar Dharmasena who has had a poor series so far as an off-spinner with his three wickets costing 57 runs apiece.

Hettiarachchi although not a big turner of the ball took five wickets for 84 runs for a Board President's XI against England last month.

Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya said his batsmen need to go and make big scores to put England under pressure.

"We lost in Kandy because we didn't have enough runs on the board. Had we scored another 75 runs on the first innings it would have been a different game despite all the controversies," said Jayasuriya.

He was fined 60 percent of his match fee and received a suspended sentence for four matches from ICC match referee Hanumant Singh for showing dissent when he was ruled out for a bump catch.

"We will come back and play real hard cricket. We were disappointed we lost in Kandy but not so much because we played really hard.

"We, fought back till the end and it was a very good match. I don't mind losing in that manner. That's how we should play. It has given the players the confidence to do well in this Test," Jayasuriya said.

Controversial Sri Lanka umpire Bulathsinghalage Cooray has been retained as television umpire for this Test following a decision taken by the Cricket Board's executive committee.

Cooray was expected to send in his resignation after the second Test at Kandy which England won by three wickets to square the series.

But has decided otherwise after the stand taken by the Cricket Board.

The teams: Sri Lanka (from): Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Dharmasena, Dinuk Hettiarachchi, Nuwan Zoysa, Dilhara Fernando.

England (from): Nasser Hussain (captain), Michael Atherton, Marcus Trescothick, Graham Thorpe, Alec Stewart, Graeme Hick, Craig White, Ashley Giles, Robert Croft, Andy Caddick, Darren Gough, Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka) and David Orchard (South Africa), TV umpire: Bulathsinghalage Cooray (Sri Lanka)

Match Referee: Hanumant Singh (India).

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