By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka had injury concerns with their bowlers ahead of the second Test as they prepared to level the three-match series against Pakistan starting at the P Sara Oval on Thursday.
Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera was ruled out of the match with split webbing on his bowling right-hand – between thumb and forefinger that required nine stitches, and fast bowler Dhammika Prasad was hit on his right thumb while batting at practice yesterday and had to go for a precautionary X’ray which later revealed no serious damage to his hand.
Sri Lanka team manager Jerry Woutersz said, “The physio has cleared Prasad to play and he will be available for selection.”
“Dilruwan’s injury happened on the day of the Galle Test. He came back and bowled but he got stitches straight after the match. We still haven’t decided on our bowling combination,” said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
Mathews said whether up and coming spinner Tharindu Kaushal would replace Perera in the final eleven depended on the type of pitch that is prepared for the Test.
“The wicket it looks pretty green as for now. It might have a little bit of bounce. We’ve still haven’t decided whether we are playing two spinners or three seamers,” Mathews said.
The good news for Sri Lanka is that fast bowler Suranga Lakmal who missed the Galle Test is fit and available for selection.
The Lankan captain assured that there would not be any changes in the batting line up.
“We like to give them a chance, not throw anyone out after one game. If not for a tactical change we would like to have some continuity with the batters so that they get good enough experience and exposure to handling situations,” said Mathews.
Sri Lanka lost the first Test to Pakistan by ten wickets being dismissed for totals of 300 and 206.
“Our preparations for this Test has been really good it’s nothing much that you can do in a couple of days. It’s just that you focus on the game and be mentally be prepared for it. We’ve done enough practice it’s just the mental shift and we are all set to go,” said Mathews assessing his team’s preparations.
“Straight after the Galle game we had a meeting and we discussed what went wrong. We don’t want to mourn about it too much but we will try and rectify it in this game.
“We identified a few areas where we need to improve especially the shot selection and when it comes to situations how to handle them. It’s a learning curve for all of us.
“We don’t have Mahelas (Mahela Jayawardene) and Thilan’s (Thilan Samaraweera) in the team. We need to stay calm and give opportunities to the youngsters and have faith in them.
“We will be missing Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara) soon as well. We all know what kind of a service that Mahela and Sanga have rendered and Thilan has been really good over the past few years. It’s a transition period for us and it’s not going to be easy.
“The guys will learn it’s just that we need to get our balances right, have faith in them and talk about our mistakes and rectify, not repeat them over and over again.
“The boys have the talent it’s just that they don’t have the experience. They are working extremely hard taking lots and lots out of Sanga, the experience he’s had over the past 20 years and hopefully take a leaf out of his playing styles. It will be tough but the boys will be up for the challenge,” he said.
Mathews stated that Sangakkara has yet not decided when he is going to quit Test cricket although he has said that it would be after the first Test against India at Galle next month.
“He is yet to confirm. He will have a press conference during the Test match or straight after it. He is still having discussions with the selectors and they have not come to a final decision on that.
“Sanga has earned the right to decide when and where to go. That is not a disturbance at all to the team. He has rendered a service that no one could do over the past 15 years. I don’t think the bearing of the series or how it goes will make an impact on his decision,” Mathews said.
Sri Lanka’s batting crumbled to the leg-spin of Yasir Shah who finished with a match bag of nine wickets and the left-arm spin of Zulfiqar Babar.
“It’s the shot selection in different situations we just have to be positive we can’t be negative against those two we always have to look to score runs not get bogged down against them,” said Mathews.
“We need to score runs. After all to win a Test match we need to give our bowlers a chance. Whether it’s Yasir, Zulfiqar, Wahab (Riaz) or Junaid (Khan) we always look to score runs. We have plans for them and hopefully execute them on the match day.”
pictures by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi | AFP