Sri Lanka should look differently in Pallekele
Sri Lanka's options going forward in the Test series versus India is about salvaging lost prestige and nothing else. With the series comprehensively lost, the plan of Sri Lanka should be to put up a better show. Honestly, having watched the Lankans closely, they aren't a side as bad as what the results reflect, or the disparity isn't as great as how it looks, purely from a results point of view.
Further, one shouldn't forget that this was almost the team that thrashed Australia three games to nil not so long ago.
Looking back at the second Test which was lost by an innings, Sri Lanka appeared to have depended too much on uncontrollable factors such as the toss and prepared a surface for such an eventuality. It's quite clear and plain had the toss been won, then the whole situation and possibly the result could have been vastly different, though in reality Sri Lanka is experiencing very little of that too.
My point is further emphasized by the fact that the first innings of India was accumulated in the relatively easy batting environment where the ball didn't spin or bounce with the pitch looking flat. Then on day two it started to misbehave and by the evening it was bad. I also felt that the Sri Lankan mindset wasn't great going in to bat for little over one hour with six hundred plus runs on the board. They were more inclined to survive than be natural, which played right into the hands of the visitors.
One has to commend the Lankan management for the bold step they took in using the heavy roller between innings on day four. It made the Indians take a step back, which suddenly made everyone watching wonder whether the surface had been changed.
Then early on day four it was evident the Indians struggled to dismiss not just the established Karunaratne but the night watchman Pushpakumara, who ended up playing a horrendous shot to be dismissed. For someone playing in his maiden Test match I felt he had a chance to be a hero, until stupidity stepped in.
Up to the point Mathews and Karunaratne's dismissals, Sri Lankan had a fighting chance in the match, not just to save it but possibly to challenge India, but again it comes back to the question of: Was the decision to prepare such a surface the right one? I am sure it will haunt the team for a long time as it badly backfired on them.
Stemming from the SSC and Galle games the hosts should look to play differently and that is to firstly prepare good surfaces backing the batting and creating the right bowling balance. With such a plan even a defeat could be tolerated if competition is visible. Hoping by the time this column is read signs of such a situation would have emerged.
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