Sri Lanka dare to dream of In­dia Test up­set

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

CAP­TAIN Di­nesh Chandi­mal is dream­ing of Sri Lanka mak­ing his­tory by win­ning a Test in In­dia – de­spite be­ing huge un­der­dogs against the world’s top-ranked side when the series be­gins in Kolkata to­mor­row. Sri Lanka lost all nine matches – three Tests, five one-day 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,” Chandi­mal said.

“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. 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 de­clared.

Sri Lanka lost all three home Tests this year against In­dia in­side four days with Chandi­mal terming it their “worst ever” series.

Coach Nic Pothas, who took over af­ter Gra­ham Ford left in June, said the In­dia de­ba­cle had taught his team vi­tal les­sons. “We learnt how In­dian team does well and the ar­eas we needed to im­prove,” he said.

“It’s in­ter­nal - the dis­ci­pline, the cul­ture and how the teams stick to­gether,” Pothas said.

“The mis­take you can make here is come and be in­fat­u­ated with the In­dian side and con­cen­trat­ing too much on them. We know they are a good side. But we played them months ago,” the South African added.

Fifties from Dimuth Karunaratne, An­gelo Mathews and Niroshan Dick­wella gave Sri Lanka a solid start to the tour in their two-day game against the Board Pres­i­dent’s XI in Kolkata.

All-rounder Mathews, who is re­turn­ing from a calf in­jury that made him miss the Pak­istan Tests, will be em­ployed solely as a bats­man. Vet­eran Ran­gana Herath will lead Sri Lanka’s spin at­tack, sup­ported by Dil­ruwan Per­era and left-arm un­ortho­dox Lak­shan San­dakan.

Kohli’s In­dia are look­ing to con­sol­i­date their top Test rank­ing and keep their win­ning run in­tact on home soil. The In­di­ans have not lost a home series in any for­mat since be­ing beaten by South Africa in one-day­ers in 2015.

Sri Lanka will be In­dia’s last home chal­lenge be­fore head­ing off on tough tours to South Africa and Eng­land next year. The sec­ond Test be­gins on Nov 24 in Nag­pur with the fi­nal match start­ing in Delhi on Dec 2. The two sides will also play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches. – AFP

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