Kolkata : Leaving India gasping for breath on the opening day of the first Test, Sri Lanka bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake said it is just the beginning and their job is far from over.
Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal wrecked the high-profile Indian top-order in overcast conditions to leave the hosts reeling at 17/3 on a rain-affected day one of the first Test at Eden Gardens on Thursday. “We had nothing to lose when we came here so our boys were ready for the challenge,” Ratnayake told at the post- match news conference. “It was one of the finest I’ve seen for a long time. The wicket was receptive and very helpful. We knew that it would seam but the job is not finished, it only started.”
Asked what would be a par score for them, Ratnayake said: “They might say 250, we might say 200. It may differ depending on the teams.” Lakmal’s sensational spell, in which he struck thrice without conceding a run in six overs, saw him remove opener Lokesh Rahul on the first ball of the match after play began three and a half hours late due to wet conditions. His other two victims were Shikhar Dhawan (8), who dragged one on to his stumps after playing a loose shot in testing conditions, and India captain Virat Kohli (0), who was trapped in front after the ball came in sharply. “I had a simple advice to keep the ball up to push batsmen back as much as possible. As we pitched up the vulnerability was more. Our tactics in normal wicket would be different and on this wicket it was totally different,” he said referring to the overcast conditions that made the task easier for their seamers.
Ratnayake further said Sri Lanka were surprised to see the Eden greentop. “Certainly it was a good toss to win. Hope it might last about one and half days or more. I would think it would last for two days at least. The surface is grassy. It is in recent times a surprise.”
Lakmal, however, lacked support at the other end with Lahiru Gamage not able to exert enough pressure. “It was a matter of getting his rhythm right and the timing was more important. As much as you need timing in batting, in bowling also you need timing and don’t want to rush through so the chances of hitting the right place becomes more,” he said.
Ratnayake said they missed Nuwan Pradeep who missed out due to an injury. “He’s not there we can’t help but we certainly do miss him. We have to look at the combination that we have.” Relishing the condition, the Lankan bowling coach said: “I would love it as a fast bowling coach. A grassy pitch gives 50-50 chance for both the teams, although it might be a nightmare for the batsmen.”