Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas has appreciated the efforts of both India and Sri Lanka to make the Kolkata Test competitive despite the match being interrupted by rain. Pothas also explained how playing against India in back to back series had helped his team play a better brand of cricket.
Ahead of the India-Sri Lanka series, Pothas had mentioned that the debacle against India earlier this year has taught his side a few lessons which forced some internal changes and led the side to become a better team. And he was right and it was visible in the very first match of the series which was played in Kolkata where the Lankans looked like a completely different team to the one India had thrashed at home. The Sri Lankan coach praised both the teams for putting up a great fight throughout the match despite the constant interference of rain.
"It's fantastic, isn't it? It's Test match cricket. It's a tough environment, it's a cauldron and that's how players earn respect from each other. I thought it was played fantastically well. Very tough, high pressured game," Pothas said as quoted by PTI.
When India visited Sri Lanka, three months ago, the hosts failed to put up any sort of fight while Team India proved their dominance in all formats of the game handing the home side an embarrassing 9-0 whitewash. Pothas seemed relieved after watching his team’s performance and fighting spirit in the first match of the tour.
"We did not compete at all in the series in Sri Lanka. We have been very competitive here in the first Test that's a huge positive, credit to everyone in the team and the support staff. We got tougher, we got success in UAE and played well here," he said.
For Sri Lanka, it was Suranga Lankmal who troubled the Indian team in both innings as he took a seven wicket-haul in the match which put the visitors in the driving seat. However, just as Sri Lanka would have thought that they had taken control of the match, Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 104 in the second innings helped India make a comeback into the Test. Sri Lanka's problems were compounded as the host's bowling attack put them under serious pressure but they managed to hold out for a draw. The former South African player opined that considering the fact that the Sri Lankan team is going through a transition phase, they are doing really well.
"We bowled very well, we fielded very well and the intensity was good. We did have India under pressure. Virat played a fantastic inning to set up a very good game of Test match cricket. I don't think anything went wrong. It was a very good cricket from both sides," he added.
"Process began in Sri Lanka absolutely. Things like that do not happen overnight. We are certainly not going to be counting our chickens... We played a couple of good Tests against Pakistan, were competitive here but we have a long way to go. This side is going to be a very good side looking into the future there's no doubt."
Riding on Kohli's brilliant century, India handed Sri Lanka a target of 231 runs, which seemed to be a tough ask for the visiting side. Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed four wickets at the expense of only eight runs to put the Sri Lankans on the ropes and he was well supported by Mohammed Shami who finished with figures 2/34. Sri Lanka appeared to be headed for yet another defeat with the scoreboard reading 75/7, but were saved by the umpires, who decided to end the game due to bad light. Pothas, however, didn't seem too worried about the second innings batting collapse and claimed that playing against better teams would only make his side better.
"It's always a concern when you lose seven wickets. But the more often you play, I think these two series back to back against India will help in making of the Sri Lankan team of the future.
"You become better when you play against a quality team under pressure. It's a concern but I'm more excited about how we fought and came out of it, looking back at all four days," Pothas stated.