Rain forced the players to stay indoors in Kolkata for major part of the opening day of first Test between India and Sri Lanka but fast bowler Suranga Lakmal still managed to steal away the spotlight in the little time players were out in the middle. The seamer scalped three wickets in 6 overs without giving away any runs at Eden Gardens and reduced the hosts to 3/17 after only 11.5 overs were bowled. Lakmal’s efforts with the ball were hailed by bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake who suggested that this was one of the “finest” spells that he has seen in a long time.
“I would say it is one of the finest I have seen in a long time. I am not sure if it’s the best spell I have seen but one of the finest I have seen for a long, long time,” Ratnayake said on Thursday (November 16) in Kolkata. “Saying that the wicket was very receptive, it was very helpful and it’s going to be a big challenge. We were sort of expecting looking at the wicket we knew that it was going to seam. By saying that the job isn’t finished. It has only started,” Ratnayake added.
Revealing his plans, Ratnayake added that he asked the bowlers to pitch the ball up and keep the line within the wicket.
“My advice was very simple. We had to keep the ball up. As much as we push the batsmen back, it is very important that we keep it up because, as you may have seen, the movement or the vulnerability was more as the bowler pitched it up and also within the wicket. Our tactics on a normal wicket would be different; our tactics in this game are different. So it’s just keeping the ball up,” he elaborated.
Nuwan Pradeep was omitted from the Test team and talking about him, the bowling coach admitted that the visiting team did miss his services on this very track.
“If we had the choice of having him, we would have certainly had him. We do certainly miss him. We have Lahiru Gamage and Dasun Shanaka in the mix and hopefully they will come up good. But we do miss Nuwan.”
“As much as you need timing in batting, you need timing in bowling as well. If you rush through the delivery, the chances of you hitting the right place is not as great as when your timing is right,” Ratnayake added.
Playing at Eden Gardens was a big occasion for Sri Lankan team as only two players out of the squad have been a part of the side when India last hosted Sri Lanka in a Test match. “The message we told the boys was that there will be a big crowd and don’t be rattled by the noise. It was not a packed house but the message was clear. It’s going to be a big ground and it’s going to be a new wicket. We had nothing to lose when we came here.”