Test captain Dinesh Chandimal will return to the Sri Lanka team to lead them in the second Test against India beginning at the SSC grounds on August 3 while the injury to veteran spinner Rangana Herath is being closely monitored.
“Dinesh should be fit he actually played this morning and he has batted the last couple of days,” said Sri Lanka cricket manager and selector Asanka Gurusinha.
Chandimal missed the first Test due to a bout of pneumonia and was replaced by Danushka Gunathilaka who made his Test debut at Galle.
On Herath’s injury Gurusinha said, “We have to see how he is going to come up in the next couple of days because his finger is pretty sore. We will give him till the last minute to make sure that he is fit.
“The day before the Test we will see whether he can drift the ball it will come down to that. If he can without pain he will play, otherwise we will have to look at different options. The finger is not swollen but it’s sore and painful.”
With Chandimal returning to the team Gunathilaka will be the one to make room for him. In the absence of the Test skipper who bats at no. 4, Sri Lanka had to make a change to their batting by dropping Kusal Mendis who is being groomed for the no. 3 position to four.
“It’s for just one game we pushed Kusal to four. Danushka was in form and you can’t bat him in the middle order. We couldn’t get him to open either because the openers were already there, that’s why we got Kusal to four for this Test. When Chandi comes back he will go back to no. 3 straight away. He is our no. 3 and we are grooming him for that position definitely,” said Gurusinha.
Sri Lanka has another slot to fill with the injury to Asela Gunaratne who has been ruled out of the series with a broken thumb.
“We have Dhananjaya (de Silva) in the squad and we have Danushka as well. We haven’t looked at whether this is the squad we are going to have for the second Test. We will have a chat later today and see whether we will need someone from outside or what combination we are going to play. It comes down to whether we are going to play 6 or 7 batsmen, we will have to decide on that after looking at the wicket,” Gurusinha said.
The SSC pitch has been Gurusinha’s home ground for a long time during his playing days.
“I played long time ago but SSC is always a good track. It will help everyone the fast bowlers a little bit in the first session, and the spinners as well when we were playing Test cricket the ball turned a lot. It depends on the amount of grass you keep. If you take a lot of grass out it will turn and if you keep grass it will go on pretty well for 2-3 days. But I don’t know how it plays now.”
Gurusinha, a solid no. 3 batsman for his country said that the Lankan batsmen didn’t execute their plans well in the first Test that led to their 304-run defeat.
“Getting 600 runs it always affects which is a difficult thing but our batsmen on that track I don’t think they handled it well because it wasn’t a track for 291 to get in the first innings that was a 400-run track,” said Gurusinha.
“Even on the fourth day it wasn’t doing much it wasn’t difficult when you see the way everyone batted. When you are playing the number one side they are very patient they’ll bowl a good line and length and wait. They tested our patience and they won. They were good in that and we took more risks. Batting overall when you look at it we didn’t handle it well,” he said.
“More than patience it’s executing their plans, each batsman had a plan they knew what they were supposed to do and how to do it. The execution of the plan was the problem for us. That happens in cricket and it’s a very difficult one. Like England lost the second Test pretty badly against South Africa its upto us to come back now.”
Gurusinha said the pace at which cricket is played today it is difficult to draw Test matches.
“These days in Test cricket the game has changed a lot because of T20. They are playing it at a very fast rate getting 300-350 in a day is nothing new in Test cricket. I wouldn’t say we should have put our heads down and batted. The batsmen had to play according to the situation sometimes if you try to bat long you can go into a negative frame of mind. You need to play positively but positively is not hitting every ball it is playing according to your plans. Our execution of plans was the main problem,” said Gurusinha.
When questioned the way Niroshan Dickwella approaches his batting, Gurusinha said, “It comes down to executing their plans and adjusting to match situations. He is very young still in this game and we just need be patient with him. He got a really good 60 and got out. But you can’t blame one batsman when you have six others who didn’t score runs consistently.
“Nobody scored a hundred from our side in the last two Tests even against Zimbabwe. That’s what we need. We need one of the top four batsmen to get 150 or 160 and a couple of others to get 70s and 80s. As soon as that happens it will give us a 400 plus total. I am hoping our batmen will focus on that and do it in the second Test,” he said.