As India and Sri Lanka start off the first Test match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday, former Sri Lankan batsman Russel Arnold has an advice for the traveling side. Speaking to reporters, Arnold said the current Sri Lankan squad needs to forget the past and not get intimidated by the strength of the opposition. “Initially the challenge for them is to forget history. India has been a very difficult place to travel even for better Sri Lankan teams,” the former left-handed batsman said.
Arnold further went on to say that Sri Lankan team needs to be “realistic” in their approach. “You got to be realistic. India is in a very good space at the moment. A lot of other teams envy India and the depth they have,” he said.
Sri Lanka suffered a heavy 9-0 defeat across all formats when India visited their turf earlier this year. But, Arnold hopes the recent successful 2-0 Test series victory against Pakistan in UAE will boost the squad’s confidence. “Sri Lankans are here to try and play, they are doing better now. You have to believe, try and perform to your potential,” he said.
On the omission of wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Mendis from the squad, the cricketer-turned-commentator said that a break from cricket will be good for him to “refresh himself”. “Of late, has been struggling with form in all formats. It was like giving him a break to work on issues, and it’s a good way forward investing in him. SL have given him break to refresh himself.”
Reiterating Kohli’s views on scheduling of frequent matches between India and Sri Lanka, Arnold said that it can lead to “boredom”. “It’s true… Constant cricket can become boring and does take the little buzz away. It’s about ensuring different oppositions to keep it alive,” he said.
Sri Lanka has a poor record on Indian soil with the team not registering a single win in 16 Tests in 35 years. Meanwhile, for Indian skipper Virat Kohli, the series acts as a platform to boost the squad’s confidence before the all-important two-month tour to South Africa, starting from January.