By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Indian team director Ravi Shastri told reporters at the pre-match press conference that India will play to win the series against Sri Lanka when the third and final Test starts at the SSC on Friday.
“We play for only one reason, we play to win. We have got ourselves in a position now where if you win this Test match, you win the series which is massive. So there’s no point being shy of going for a win,” said Shastri.
“At the same time, it’s not a case of being overconfident. You got to have the right balance and go and play proper cricket like we did in the last Test match over five days.”
India drew level with Sri Lanka by winning the second Test at the P Sara Oval by 278 runs. They have not won a Test series in Sri Lanka for the past 22 years and tomorrow’s Test presents them with a good opportunity of ending that barren run.
India also has fitness issues which they are trying to overcome ahead of the decisive Test.
Naman Ojha is expected to replace injured wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha and make his Test debut while Cheteswar Puja returns to the side to fill the opener’s gap left vacant by the injury to Murali Vijay. Both Saha and Vijay who suffered hamstring injuries have left for India.
“In this team, no one owns a batting position, any position. It all depends on strategy and we are prepared to be flexible,” said Shastri.
“We will play horses for courses, what the situation, what the opposition demands. And accordingly, see what is the best batting position for each one in the side against that particular outfit depending on the state of the series.”
India’s biggest plus point in the series has been their spinners Ravichandran Aswhin and Amit Sharma who between them have taken 29 wickets.
“I’ll echo what my captain said. It is the best bowling I have seen as a unit in the last couple of years. Especially on day two and parts of day three where they might not have got wickets, but the
discipline was there. They kept the pressure on the opposition and when wickets started to fall it made a massive difference,” said Shastri.
“If they can stick to that discipline, I see a lot of promise. I can see no reason why like they did it in the last match they should be able to repeat it more often than not.”
On the subject of Virat Kohli’s captaincy Shastri said, “You will see it. It is still early days but you will see it in time. Each captain has his own style. You can see with Virat, like I said before, he is pretty much in your face. He will play to win and he will want to be positive all the time. There will be intent in anything he does.”