Sri Lanka To Continue Five-Bowler Strategy, Hints Chandimal

Like the rest of his team, Dinesh Chandimal doesn’t have pleasant memories of recent battles against India, but the Sri Lanka captain was putting on a brave face ahead of the three-Test series starting at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.

After losing 3-0 against India at home in July-August, Sri Lanka managed to rediscover some of its confidence when it swept Pakistan 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates, but Chandimal wasn’t going to get carried away by that success.

“We all know India is No. 1 at the moment,” said the Test captain in Kolkata on Wednesday. “In Tests, they have played some really good cricket in the last two years. It was a tough series against them in Sri Lanka. As a team, we have learnt a lot and we just need to get the positives out of the last series. As a unit, we are much more relaxed after winning against Pakistan. We have really good confidence. The guys are in good shape and we are looking forward to the series.

“Actually, if you look at their record in the last two years, it has been outstanding,” added Chandimal, endorsing coach Nic Pothas’s comparison of Virat Kohli’s men to the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team. “They have done a lot of hard work in practice and on and off the field. They are good as a team and in every format, they have got the balance.”

While India may use this series as preparation for the Test series in South Africa in January, Chandimal chose to remain in his own bubble. “Their next tour is in South Africa and they all will think about that series,” he conceded. “(But) as a team, we need to do the right things, execute our plans well. They are really good with their experience and their game but we need to do our best. Then, the results will come our way.”

One of the things Sri Lanka addressed after the India whitewash was to play the additional bowler. “If you are playing against a good team, you need to take 20 wickets,” pointed out Chandimal. “That’s the one area we are looking at, and the fielding. We need to keep our energy throughout the five days. We have improved on those areas and look forward to implement those here.

“Especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we know the weather. It gets hot there, that's why we used five bowlers and six batters (against Pakistan). That's the combination we are looking at. You need wickets to win against a good team like India and we need to take 20 wickets. We haven't decided on our combination yet, we need to see pitch first. We will decide tomorrow morning who is going to play. We did see the pitch yesterday, it was green and hard, so the seamers will come into play here.”

Angelo Mathews, Chandimal’s predecessor, missed the Pakistan series through a calf injury but is back in the mix now, if only as a specialist batsman. “He is going to bat at No. 4. He has got the experience and that is what we are looking at,” confirmed Chandimal. “We think if we send him top of the order, we can get the maximum out of him.

“If he is bowling, it gives us more confidence. But unfortunately, with his injury, he can't bowl in Test cricket. But looking at his experience, he will put his hand up and do his best in this series. As a batting unit, it gives us confidence when he is around.”

Courtesy:ICC

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