Sa’adi Thawfeeq reporting from Galle
GALLE: Sri Lanka’s hero of the day Dinesh Chandimal said that his team’s approach to bat like in a one-day match on a turning pitch paid off handsomely as they were able to set India a target of 176 to chase in the fourth innings of the first Test at the Galle International Stadium.
Chandimal’s brilliant counter-attacking knock of 162 not out saw Sri Lanka recover from a hopeless 95-5 to post a challenging second innings total of 367.
It was the partnership of 125 between Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne who made 44 that gave Sri Lanka the momentum towards their final total.
“We saw at that time there was big turn on the pitch. There was a lot of pressure at the crease. We talked about how it would be tough for us if we just tried to stay there – that way we wouldn’t get any runs and we’d lose our wickets as well,” said Chandimal at the end of the day.
“We decided to bat like it was a one-day match. That way we can put pressure on the bowlers. That was our idea. Thirimanne did that job well, and it became easy for me to bat with him. After that (Jehan) Mubarak came and played a good innings. Before that (Angelo) Mathews and (Kumar) Sangakkara played two good innings. What we decided was to turn over the strike and bat,” he said.
Chandimal said that before he went out to bat he had already made up his mind how he would get about taking on the Indian spinners.
“I was thinking in the dressing room what I was going to do in the middle. I was going to reverse sweep and sweep to put pressure on the bowlers. I did that and I’m really happy with the way I handled their spinners,” said Chandimal.
“It was difficult to bat on this kind of pitch. I tried to rotate the strike and put the pressure on the bowlers so I could get a loose delivery.”
Chandimal rated his innings as the best he has played in his career, but added it will be sweeter if they can convert that into a win.
“I am really happy with this knock, but I always feel my best innings is my next one. I’m looking forward to that. The innings I’ve played today is my best,” said Chandimal.
“If we win the match, then there will be value to my innings. That’s when it will be of service to the team and the country. The happiness of winning the match will be greater than the happiness of scoring a hundred.”
Chandimal’s knock has given Sri Lanka an outside chance of pulling off a win in the Test,
“The spinners will have to bowl really well tomorrow. If we can get two wickets in the first hour and push the India team down, there will be a lot of pressure. They are playing with five batsmen, so we can turn the match.”
Chandimal had come through some tough times in his career and he said he had learnt a lot from them.
“Any cricketer rises and falls. In the past year and a half I was struggling. I learnt a lot during that time. I batted high in the team and as well as low. I picked up a lot of things through that,” said Chandimal.
“Mentally, I’m in a good shape now. Sometimes when you don’t have form your mental condition counts in international cricket. I didn’t think much about my technique. I just thought about how to play the ball and score runs. That has had a big effect in my cricket.”
During his innings Chandimal played the reverse sweep quite often and also succeeded in scoring runs against the Indian spinners.
“It’s a shot I haven’t played in school cricket, club cricket or international cricket. But every time at practice I’ve practiced the shot. I thought the best time to play it would be today. That worked really well for me.”