Dinesh Chandimal is expected to return to lead the Sri Lanka team in the second Test against India at the SSC next week, after recovering from a bout of pneumonia that kept him out of the first Test in Galle. Rangana Herath, who suffered an injury to his finger in the first Test, is being closely monitored, ahead of the match which starts from August 3.
“Dinesh should be fit, he actually played this (Sunday) morning and he has batted the last couple of days,” Asanka Gurusinha, Sri Lanka’s cricket manager and selector, said.
“We have to see how he is going to come up in the next couple of days because his finger is pretty sore,” Gurusinha said of Herath’s condition. “We will give him till the last minute to make sure that he is fit.
“The day before the Test we will see whether he can drift the ball, it will come down to that. If he can without pain he will play, otherwise we will have to look at different options. The finger is not swollen but it’s sore and painful.”
Danushka Gunathilaka, who made his Test debut in Galle, is likely to be left out once Chandimal returns, while Kusal Mendis is expected to return to the No. 3 slot. Mendis had batted at No. 4 in Galle, dropping one spot as the team played Gunathilaka.
“It’s for just one game, we pushed Kusal to four. Danushka was in form and you can’t bat him in the middle order,” Gurusinha said. “We couldn’t get him to open either because the openers were already there, that’s why we got Kusal to four for this Test. When Chandimal comes back, he will go back to No. 3 straight away. He is our No. 3 and we are grooming him for that position definitely.”
Sri Lanka also have another slot to fill after the injury to Asela Gunaratne, who has been ruled out of the series with a broken thumb.
“We have Dhananjaya (de Silva) in the squad and we have Danushka as well,” Gurusinha said. “We haven’t looked at whether this is the squad we are going to have for the second Test. We will have a chat later today and see whether we will need someone from outside or what combination we are going to play. It comes down to whether we are going to play six or seven batsmen, we will have to decide on that after looking at the wicket.”
Sri Lanka will look to recover some ground after losing the first Test by 304 runs. Gurusinha pinned that defeat on the batsmen, who did not execute their plans well. The hosts managed scores of 291 in the first innings, in response to India’s 600, and 245 in the second innings while chasing an improbable 550.
“Getting 600 runs it always affects which is a difficult thing, but our batsmen on that track I don’t think they handled it well because it wasn’t a track to get 291 in the first innings. That was a 400-run track,” Gurusinha said.
“Even on the fourth day, it wasn’t doing much, it wasn’t difficult when you see the way everyone batted. When you are playing the No. 1 side, they are very patient they’ll bowl a good line and length and wait. They tested our patience and they won. They were good in that and we took more risks. Batting overall, when you look at it, we didn’t handle it well.”
Gurusinha said the pace at which cricket is played today made it difficult to draw Test matches. “These days in Test cricket, the game has changed a lot because of T20. They are playing it at a very fast rate getting 300-350 in a day is nothing new in Test cricket. Sometimes if you try to bat long, you can go into a negative frame of mind. You need to play positively but positively is not hitting every ball, it is playing according to your plans. Our execution of plans was the main problem.
“Nobody scored a hundred from our side in the last two Tests, even against Zimbabwe. That’s what we need. We need one of the top four batsmen to get 150 or 160 and a couple of others to get 70s and 80s. As soon as that happens it will give us a 400-plus total.”