It’s our dream to win a se­ries in In­dia, says Lanka skip­per

Mid Day - - SPORT -

Cap­tain Di­nesh Chandi­mal is dream­ing of Sri Lanka mak­ing his­tory by win­ning a Test in In­dia — de­spite be­ing un­der­dogs against the world’s top-ranked side when the se­ries be­gins in Kolkata on Thurs­day.

Sri Lanka lost all nine matches — three Tests, five one­day in­ter­na­tion­als and a Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional — as they were hu­mil­i­ated at home by Vi­rat Kohli’s tourists from late July to Septem­ber.

The is­land na­tion have still never won a Test on In­dian soil but they head for Eden Gar­dens with re­newed hopes af­ter win­ning both Tests against Pak­istan in the UAE last month and Chandi­mal be­lieves dreams can come true. “We did re­ally well against Pak­istan and the boys are in a good shape. We know In­dia are the num­ber one team at the mo­ment and have seen them play some re­ally good cricket in the last two years. This will be a chal­leng­ing se­ries for us,” Chandi­mal said.

“We have never won a Test in In­dia. So it’s a dream for us to win one this time. We need to start well in this se­ries,” he added. Sri Lanka lost all three home Tests this year against In­dia in­side four days with Chandi­mal terming it their “worst ever” se­ries.

In­dia’s 9-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka across all three for­mats re­cently, hangs heavy be­fore the launch of an­other nine-match en­gage­ment be­tween the two teams.

With the first of three Tests be­gin­ning here to­mor­row, both teams will want to put the past be­hind them as quickly as pos­si­ble. The vis­i­tors have their ob­vi­ous rea­sons, but In­dia too have a great deal at stake.

“For us, every match and se­ries is im­por­tant be­fore go­ing to South Africa, but we are fo­cussing on this se­ries right now,” Ajinkya Ra­hane said be­fore nets at the Eden Gar­dens yes­ter­day, pro­vid­ing a peep into ‘prepa­ra­tions’ for the big tour even as he spelt out the ‘one match at time’ phi­los­o­phy that teams have come to em­brace th­ese days.

Vi­rat Kohli & Co. sit atop the ICC Test rank­ings and they will want to keep it that way be­fore fac­ing the No. 2 team in their back­yard. The tour to South Africa comes im­me­di­ately af­ter the Lanka se­ries, and Team In­dia will want to carry the mo­men­tum from here.

“They have been pre­par­ing re­ally well and we don’t want to be tak­ing them lightly. We just want to think about our game rather than think­ing about their com­bi­na­tion or their strengths,” Ra­hane added, al­most as if warn­ing against com­pla­cency.

Adapt­ing to change

The last Test In­dia played was against Lanka three months ago, and the space be­tween has been filled with the fre­netic change in for­mats. “We know how to ad­just to dif­fer­ent for­mats. We are all pro­fes­sion­als, so that won’t be a prob­lem,” he re­sponded when asked whether the longer ver­sion would re­quire play­ers to dig deep.

“The first Test is im­por­tant when it comes to mo­men­tum and we are well pre­pared.”

Hav­ing re­gained some con­fi­dence with back-to-back Test vic­to­ries over Pak­istan in the UAE, the Lankans are putting a great deal into their prepa­ra­tions.

Ar­riv­ing an hour be­fore sched­ule, the vis­i­tors in­tro­duced an ex­tra dose of spin at the nets with six lo­cal bowlers be­ing em­ployed.

The pitch be­ing pre­pared has a gen­er­ous tinge of green and it will be in­ter­est­ing to find out if In­dia ac­tu­ally opt for pace and bounce to peg back the Lankans. There was a lengthy pitch-side dis­cus­sion in­volv­ing head coach Ravi Shas­tri, Kohli, bowl­ing coach Bharat Arun and Ravin­dra Jadeja be­fore the skip­per had a chat with cu­ra­tor Su­jan Mukher­jee.

‘No idea of the pitch’

The cu­ra­tor later ac­com­pa­nied for­mer In­dia skip­per Sourav Gan­guly, now CAB pres­i­dent, to the pitch. “Let's wait for the match to start. I haven’t seen the wicket, so I’m not sure,” Ra­hane quipped when asked to throw light on the pitch.

The Lankans are cer­tainly be­ing kept guess­ing.

Team In­dia’s Ajinkya Ra­hane


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