By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Sri Lanka may have won the second Test and leveled the three-match series one-all at the P Sara Oval but what excites the Lankan captain Angelo Mathews is the performances of two young bowlers who played a part in that victory.
Off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal (22) playing in only his second Test took five wickets in the Pakistan first innings to bowl them out for 138 and fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera (23) making his Test debut bowled with a lot of fire to clock nearly 150kph to unsettle the Pakistani batsmen. He ended up taking four wickets in the match.
Those two are players who can do a lot for Sri Lankan cricket. We have to manage them very carefully especially Chameera,” said Mathews at the post-match press conference.
“I haven’t seen a faster spell than he bowled in this Test match. He’s very quick. With Kaushal who turns the ball, we have to be patient with them and give them opportunities.
“Kaushal I understand that he’s raw, but he’s got more than 200 wickets in first-class cricket. We had to be positive with him. We also picked Dushmantha because we know he can bowl a lot faster. I was actually very excited to see Dushmantha bowl that fast. He clocked 149.9 which is extraordinary for a Sri Lankan, but also around the world it’s very quick. Hopefully he can continue that.”
Chameera in fact bowled with a slight side strain and Mathews said that they were awaiting a medical report on it.
“We’re not a 100 percent sure of that. But he bowled with it, so it’s not as bad as that.”
Mathews also praised the effort of Dhammika Prasad who won the man of the match award with a bag of seven wickets.
“It was a great effort by the bowlers. Dhammika bowled brilliantly throughout the Test match. He showed maturity throughout the last two Tests,” said Mathews.
“Dhammika has been playing a lot of cricket over the past few years, and he’s showed his maturity in the England second game and also here. Good signs as far as the fast bowlers are concerned. We’ve got to stick to them and be patient with them,” he said.
Mathews praised the work done by fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake and said, “We’ve got a set of good fast bowlers where they can change modes, they can attack or they can stick to line and length. Champaka Ramanayake has been doing a great job. They’ve been showing a lot of maturity.”
Mathews said that after the Galle Test which Sri Lanka lost by ten wickets the team was determined to prove that they were a better side than the results suggested.
“We were disappointed after the Galle Test. Among the group there was a hunger to come and perform better than Galle. We just said to ourselves, “No matter what, we’ll play positive cricket.” No matter what the outcome or the result, we just wanted to do our processes right,” Mathews said.
With Kumar Sangakkara playing his last Test of the series there will be a vacant slot in the batting line up at no. 3 for Pallekele.
“We’ve got a few options. We’ve got two sitting outside the team now (Jehan Mubarak and Kusal Perera), and also we’ve got Upul Tharanga. We still have to decide who comes in. Tharanga is not in the squad, but we can draft him in for the last game. I’m yet to see the selectors and Marvan and decide on that,” said Mathews.
“It’s going to be difficult to fill Mahela (Jayawardene) and Sanga’s shoes. It will take a bit of time. Most of the time we won’t get the result that we want, individually, or as a team but we’ve got to be patient with them.”
Defending his key spinner Rangana Herath on his lack of success in the series so far (he has taken only two wickets in 68.2 overs) Mathews said, “What Rangana usually does was shared around by all four bowlers. We didn’t expect too much from him. At some occasions Rangana does well, and on other occasions other players step up.
“We’re not looking to load anyone with unfair expectations. Sometimes a bowler doesn’t do huge service to the team, but even if he’s not getting wickets, he’s preventing batsmen from getting quick runs. He did a lot of that in this Test.”