Sri Lanka were finally able to bring to an end the run of defeats against India at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the first Test. Despite the draw, Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas is excited and gave credit to the entire team for the competitive nature posed over the course of the rain-affected contest. Coming into the series, Sri Lanka had a recent record of 0-9 against India as they were blanked by the Virat Kohli-captained team in all formats. But the islanders moved on to UAE and notched together a remarkable 2-0 Test series win.
“We did not compete at all in the series in Sri Lanka. We have been very competitive here in the first Test that’s a huge positive, credit to everyone in the team and the support staff. We got tougher, we got success in UAE and played well here,” Pothas said at the post-match media conference on Monday.
Sri Lanka are still working towards forming a steady unit since Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara retired. Pothas acknowledged that things began since India spanked Sri Lanka in their own back yard. “Process began in Sri Lanka absolutely. Things like that do not happen overnight. We are certainly not going to be counting our chickens… We played a couple of good Tests against Pakistan, were competitive here but we have a long way to go. This side is going to be a very good side looking into the future there’s no doubt,” he said.
The first two days of the Test were largely affected by rain and speedster Suranga Lakmal made the most of the seamer friendly conditions helped by the overcast weather. He troubled the batsmen in the second innings as well before Kohli struck a fine century to hand Sri Lanka a 231 run target with a session and half to play. In reply, Sri Lanka were left in trouble at 75/7 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami causing trouble. Pothas agreed that losing seven wickets in a flurry is a reason for concern but also works as a tool to learn for the future.
“It’s always a concern when you lose seven wickets. But the more often you play, I think these two series back to back against India will help in making of the Sri Lankan team of the future. You become better when you play against a quality team under pressure. It’s a concern but I’m more excited about how we fought and came out of it, looking back at all four days,” said Pothas.
Despite the rain and two days getting nearly washed out, the match could have had an outcome and Pothas said it was great brand of Test cricket on offer by both teams. “It’s fantastic, isn’t it? It’s Test match cricket. It’s a tough environment, it’s a cauldron and that’s how players earn respect from each other. I thought it was played fantastically well. Very tough, high pressured game.”
“We bowled very well, we fielded very well and the intensity was good. We did have India under pressure. Virat played a fantastic innings to set up a very good game of Test match cricket. I don’t think anything went wrong. It was a very good cricket from both sides,” he concluded.