Sri Lanka flirt with In­dia white­wash

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka are flirt­ing with an em­bar­rass­ing se­ries white­wash in the third Test against In­dia from to­mor­row as they strug­gle with prob­lems on and off the pitch which have thrown the team into tur­bu­lence.

A se­ries of poor results, the early de­par­ture of their coach and ac­cu­sa­tions against play­ers and the coun­try’s cricket chief have made for a dif­fi­cult few months for the for­mer one-day world cham­pi­ons.

Sri Lanka, lam­pooned by fans and de­scribed as pot-bel­lied by their sports min­is­ter, can now ill af­ford a third loss to top-ranked In­dia in Pallekele, fol­low­ing their crush­ing de­feats in Galle and Colombo.

They have not been helped by a suc­ces­sion of in­juries, capped by a back prob­lem which has side­lined their num­ber one bowler, Ran­gana Herath, for the third Test.

Pace­man Nuwan Pradeep could bowl only 17.4 overs in Colombo be­fore pulling out with a ham­string in­jury, and all­rounder Asela Gu­naratne are al­ready out of the se­ries.

Sri Lanka failed to reach the semi-fi­nals of the eight-team Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in June, and then lost their coach when Gra­ham Ford quit mid­con­tract.

Worse was to come when they hu­mil­i­at­ingly went down 3-2 in a home one-day se­ries to bot­tom­ranked Zim­babwe.

For­mer cap­tain Ar­juna Ranatunga, a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, told AFP that he blamed Sri Lanka’s losses on cricket chief Thi­langa Su­math­ipala, and ac­cused him of links to gam­bling – a claim Su­math­ipala de­nies.

There have also been re­ports of at­tempts to ap­proach Sri Lankan play­ers for al­leged match-fix­ing.

Skip­per Di­nesh Chandi­mal, who missed the first Test with pneu­mo­nia, says a con­so­la­tion vic­tory over In­dia would help put the smiles back on his play­ers’ faces.

“If we can win even one match against a team like this (In­dia), we will be able to re­ally boost the men­tal state in the team. They are the num­ber one team,” said Chandi­mal.

“We need to pick up the pos­i­tives and look for­ward to the next game.” AFP

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