The caravan of the ongoing Sri Lanka-India Test series has moved to Colombo and India couldn’t have come to the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) with a better frame of mind. In the series opener at Galle, the Virat Kohli-led team almost ticked all the right boxes while registering that record-breaking 304-run victory. The match lasted only four days and throughout the entire first Test, the hosts never looked competitive.
In the second match of the series, which starts from today (August 3) Kohli’s men can be expected to continue their domination and ideally, they would like to secure the series over here.
Well, Indian think-tank would have thought exactly that, when the first stepped onto the field for their first practice session at SSC on Tuesday. They were greeted with a hard, green surface and the kind of pace attack India have right now, they would not have been much unhappy, seeing such wicket.
During his pre-match press conference, Kohli was all praise for that greenish wicket, calling it a great Test strip and the kind India can play their best cricket on. However, on Wednesday, while saying these, he was yet to look at the wicket.
“I had a look at the wicket yesterday [On Tuesday], I haven’t seen it today yet. Looked pretty nice and hard underneath with good covering of grass. The last time around as well, we thought it was a great wicket for Test cricket. Batsmen had to apply themselves to get runs, bowlers were in the game throughout. It is a wicket that you will get a result on for sure. That excites us, it’s something that we look forward to as a team and this is the kind of wicket that we always like to play on, where we have a chance to make an impact on the game throughout. I really enjoyed playing here last time, and I think it’s a great wicket for Test cricket,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Indian captain did not have the idea that the pitch had undergone a massive transformation overnight. The grass on the wicket, which was there on the track on Tuesday, was stripped off, and now it was just a hard, dry surface that would take turn early.
This sudden change in gameplan from Sri Lanka had definitely caught Indian team management by surprise. Either it was pre-planned or the hosts were waiting for an assurance regarding the fitness of Rangana Hearth.
Such a result oriented surface actually narrows the gap between both teams and one must feel that this is Sri Lanka’s best chance to upset the Indians, who are playing some fascinating Test cricket.
Ideal surface for Pushpakumara’s debut.
For Sri Lanka, this is the ideal opportunity to bring in a third spinner, possibly the much talked about uncapped left-arm orthodox Malinda Pushpakumara, who has 558 First-Class wickets to his name. Along with a fit Herath and Dilruwan Perera.
Their skipper has already provided a hint about this likely move of picking two specialist left-arm spinners in the playing eleven.
“Rangana is a legend. He is a match winner in the last 7-8 years. If we can play with him, he can give experience to Malinda. That’s what we want to do. This a really good opportunity if Malinda plays, to benefit from Rangana’s experience in the middle and the dressing room. I hope both are going to do really good things.”
Thus, unlike the first Test, where most of the Lankan bowlers (Apart from Nuwan Pradeep) looked harmless, in SCC there will be a different ball game altogether. This is expected to be low-scoring encounter and batsmen’s applications will be tested. Under Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka are expected to come out hard on their counterparts.
The Sri Lankan captain believes, while taking on a quality team like India, you have to take some risks and by opting for a dry track is that calculated risk which the host have taken and if Chandimal can win the toss and bat first, then we will defiantly have a match on our hand.
In any way, we can hope for another four-day finish.