Chandimal admits that pink ball poses a challenge
In his third series as captain, Dinesh Chandimal will have the complication, not only of leading a battered Sri Lankan team, but also leading them in the country’s first day-night Test during the forthcoming United Arab Emirates tour.
The second and final Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan will be played under lights in Dubai from October 6-10 and skipper Chandimal admitted that daynight cricket poses a huge challenge to his charges who have little experience with the pink-ball.
“It’s going to be a new challenge, and big one, too,” he said. “We need just one good win to change it around and this tour could be the turning point”.
Chandimal replaced Angelo Mathews as national Test captain when the latter resigned in June following a home ODI series defeat to Zimbabwe (2-3).
Since December, Sri Lanka have lost seven of their nine Test matches, including two series whitewashes to South Africa (3-0) and India (3-0), and have slid into murky depths in international cricket.
The ensuing mental scars are expected to remain with the players for a while and the added pressure of playing a day- night Test may hurt their chances of reviving the game.
“Like I said, it’s going to be a new challenge for us and a tough challenge, as well," Chandimal reiterated. "But we will have five days of training next week where we will be playing with the pink ball. Hopefully, we’ll get a session or two under lights to get a hang of it."
Sri Lanka used the pink ball during the four- day super eight tournament last season but that not played under lights. Most of the national cricketers were also unavailable due to commitments.
“We’ve played the last season with the pink- ball," he said. "I could only play one match because of my national commitments. So I am not that familiar with it but what I saw there was that the ball is a bit lighter which makes it swing earlier than the red-ball."
“It will be tough for the batsmen, initially, and if we can get through the first 25 overs and I think when the ball is a little bit old, the batting will not be that difficult,” he concluded.
Sri Lankan batsmen look as good as anyone on paper but have struggled to construct long innings, largely contributing to dismal performances in recent months. Their bowlers have been no better.
Chandimal says the pink ball offers little support for the spinners while even the seamers will have to bowl to a perfect line and length.
“You will have to maintain a perfect line and length and that’s going to be the challenge for the seam bowlers as the ball will move through the air due to its lightness more than the red-ball which we usually play Test cricket with," he explained. "So these are little things we’ll have to work on during the next few days." The 27-year-old captain has a Test batting average of 41.
The match was scheduled on the request of Pakistan Cricket Board whose cricketers recorded a close 54-run win in Pakistan’s maiden day-night encounter against West Indies in October last year at the same venue. It will be only the sixth time a Test match has ever followed this format after Australia and New Zealand first wore whites under the lights in November 2015.
For mer skipper Angelo Mathews hasn’t played pink ball cricket yet and said he was excited.
“Personally I am very much excited about the challenge. It’s going to be a whole new experience for us,” he said. “We will be having a very intense preparation during the next few days."
Like his successor, Mathews admitted that Sri Lanka will be under pressure during the tour. Sri Lanka drew the Test series during their last tour to UAE. After the first match ended in a draw, Sri Lanka beat them in the second match in Dubai before Pakistan successfully chased down 302 inside two sessions to level the series in the third and final Test played at the Sharjah cricket grounds.
“The pressure is always there but it will be more this time," Mathews explained. "We’ve been through a very bad patch but that doesn’t mean we are bad cricketers. All we need is one good win."
After constantly failing with the Red ball and then with the White balls, now the Lankan Test skipper fears the 'Pink' which he feels is all mental, not physical