Sri Lanka to play five bowlers against India in first test
Kolkata, Nov 15 (CRICKETNMORE): Sri Lanka will play five bowlers against India and experienced campaigner Angelo Mathews will bat at No.4, skipper Dinesh Chandimal said on Wednesday ahead of the first cricket Test here.
"That's the combination we are looking at. You need wickets to win against a good team like India and we need to take 20 wickets. We haven't decided yet... we need to see the pitch first. We will decide tomorrow morning who is going to play," Chandimal told reporters on the eve of their first Test against India at the Eden Gardens here.
Sri Lanka played five bowlers against Pakistan in the first Test of the recently-concluded series with the likes of off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, veteran left-arm tweaker Rangan Herath and chinaman Lakshan Sandakan rolling their arms along with pacers' duo of Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep.
In the second Test, Lahiru Gamage played in place of Sandakan.
With it is unlikely that they will play three spinners on Thursday with the Eden wicket having a fair sprinkling of grass on it, Pradeep will be missed as he is not travelling with the team.
"He is injury-prone and has been suffering injuries quite often in the last one year. After playing one match, he is not being able to play the next three-four matches. We are observing his progress and it is good that he has been given a break. It is the selectors' call at the end of the day," Chandimal said about Pradeep.
On former captain Mathews, who is making a comeback into the team after missing the Pakistan series in the UAE due to calf injury, Chandimal said: "He is going to bat at No.4. He has got the experience and that is what we are looking at. We think if we send him top of the order we can get the maximum out of him."
Mathews generally bats a rung lower down the order. Kusal Mendis -- who is also not playing the series -- usually bats at No.4.
"If he is bowling, it gives us more confidence. But, unfortunately, with his injury he can't bowl in Test cricket. But looking at his experience, he was unbelievable in 2013-14 so he will put his hand up and do his best in this series. As a batting unit, it gives us confidence when he is around," Chandimal said about Mathews not being able to bowl in the longest format.
Asked how difficult will it be for his side to recover after losing 0-9 to India at home across all formats, Chandimal said: "We all know India is No.1 at the moment. In Tests, they played some really good cricket in last two years. It was a tough series against them in Sri Lanka.
"As a team, we have learnt a lot and we just need to get the positives out of the last series. As a unit we are much than the last series after winning against Pakistan. We have really good confidence. The guys are in good shape and we are looking forward to the series."
Besides playing five bowlers, Chandimal said Sri Lanka have also worked on their fielding after the India series.
"The one area we are looking at is the fielding. We need to keep our energy throughout the five days. We improved on those areas and look forward to implementing those here."