At Port of Spain, Sri Lanka’s batting display was very poor. It lacked determination. At Saint Lucia, they would need to show more determination to make a comeback
Just before the start of second Test, Sri Lanka received two bad news: First of all, Angelo Mathews decided to leave midway through the tour, citing personal reasons and secondly, fast bowler Lahiru Gamage has been ruled out of the tour due to a fractured finger sustained on the final day of first Test at Trinidad.
Batsman Danushka Gunathilaka, who had played in the Tests against Bangladesh in February, and allrounder Dasun Shanaka, who had played against India last year, will only leave Sri Lanka on Wednesday evening – the eve of the St. Lucia Test.
The loss of Mathews yet again is not something inspiring for a camp who are looking to bounce back at Saint Lucia. This is not the first time, the Lankan unit is left suffering due to Mathews, but in the past two years, they have experienced Mathews, missing more Test matches mostly due to injuries. It’s the high time that Mathews takes a decision about his Test future as because, he doesn’t seem fit or focused enough in five-day matches. Time and again, a team cannot suffer due to one Mathews!
But, Sri Lanka do have the backups: Dhananjaya de Silva and Mahela Udawatte as cover to fill the gap of a batsman, and two extra quicks, Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando to replace Lahiru Gamage in the eleven.
Anyhow, Chandika Hathurusingha’s men have been facing such adversities since the start of 2018. During the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, but Chandika’s men bounced back like a champion to nail the hosts and left the tour with a big smile on their faces. Throughout the Bangladesh tour, they exhibited the fighting spirit, which usually one expected from the students of Chandika.
In the first Test at Port of Spain, Sri Lanka lacked the determination to withstand the patience of Caribbean batters and the guile of West Indian pacers, especially Shannon Gabriel. Gabriel was at his menacing best on a track, which had no life at all.
The track at Port of Spain offered little for the pacers. It was flat, but offered uneven bounce to aid the spinners as the day progressed. Still, Gabriel banged the ball short with sheer pace and the Sri Lankan batsmen were put straight on the back foot – totally confused about whether to play on the back or move forward. His length was full and most of the times on that middle and offstump line, which gave the Lankan batters no respite.
Even though, Mendis showed his colleagues how to weather the storm of Gabriel y getting behind the line and playing with a straight bat and leaving the ball as much as possible rather than displaying rush of blood. Against the likes of Gabriel, it’s very important to play with enough caution if you lack the ability to counterattack like AB de Villiers. Patience has its rewards.
Gabriel did not fetch wicket in plenty like the spinners did at Trinidad and that’s where the pacer from West Indies made the difference. Sri Lankan batsmen were dented psychologically by Gabriel’s pace and later on, failed to exhibit the right determination against the likes of Roston Chase, who plucked four wickets on the final day to finish of the Test on either side of the lunch.
After that unplayable delivery to end the stubborn resistance of Kusal Mendis by Gabriel, the Lankan batters looked in a hurry and thus executed poor shots. Dinesh Chandimal lost his cool and was dismissed just before lunch break. In fact, there was no need to slam a benign length ball from Chase. Niroshan Dickwella looked less-confident and dragged his pads to be trapped lbw and then the tail succumbed in no time. Even the top-order, apart from Mendis, in the second innings, looked short of determination. While in the first innings, the batting exhibition was never near the quality of a side, which has the talent to fight it out under any circumstances.
At Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka need to exhibit more determination than the hosts. Test cricket requires the use of a temperament more than other formats. One might have the talent and technique to play a five-day match, but if a team lacks the appropriate temperament, the ship will always sink in the ocean.