Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya believes that the squad is currently undergoing a transitional phase and will need time to replace some of their recently retired greats. He also added that Sri Lanka could make a comeback in the second Test in Colombo if they get their basics right.
Following Sri Lanka's humiliating defeat at the hands of India, which saw the hosts getting bundled out on the fourth day of the Test itself, their chief selector has cited the side’s inexperience along with their fielding and batting woes as the main reasons for the heavy 304 run loss at Galle.
Speaking to TOI, the 48-year-old said, “We're in a little bit of a transition period… but we've talented players like Kushal Mendis, (Niroshan) Dickwella and Danushka Gunalathika. Upul Tharanga is developing into a good, experienced Test cricketer. And we're missing another good cricketer, Lahiru Thirmanne, who's another hugely talented cricketer, but unfortunately, was out due to injury.”
While it can be granted that the Lankan lions are undergoing a transitional phase, there is no denying the fact that they did not help their cause with some below par efforts in the field. And Jayasuriya himself acknowledged this saying, “I think when we got out for 291 in the first innings...that was crucial because, in a Test, first innings runs are very important… He (Dhawan) was a bit lucky that his catch was dropped (by Asela Gunaratne, when Dhawan was on 31). We dropped (Hardik) Pandya's catch (by Dimuth Karunaratne off Herath when Pandya was on four) too, and he went on to score 50. So, these are little things we need to fine-tune. So, we need time, confidence.”
On the other hand, the once explosive batsman was all praise for the Indian team, especially opener Shikhar Dhawan whose blistering innings of 190 made a massive difference on the first day. Commending his style, Jayasuriya said, “I think I'm excited when I see Dhawan attack. It reminds me of the time about 15 years ago when a lot of attacking batsmen were around. When someone plays like that, it's nice to see.”
However, the World Cup winner from Matara still believes Sri Lanka can turn the series around in the remaining two games. And with the likes of Asela Gunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal returning to the squad to bolster their batting lineup, he has every reason to think so.
Citing their victory against Australia last year, Jayasuriya said, “This is cricket, and if we apply ourselves and want (to come back), then we can. This is something we proved last year, when we beat Australia, then the world's No. 1 Test team 3-0 when they were here. It wasn't a one-off win because you can't win three Tests in a row without playing well. So, our players are capable.”