Sri Lanka flirt with India whitewash
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