A disappointed Chaminda Vaas did not mince his words at the press-conference after the first day’s play against India at Pallekele. With the series already lost after losing the first two Tests by big margins, the hosts seemed to have learnt nothing from their mistakes and it was very much evident from the way their fast-bowlers began the proceedings after Virat Kohli won the toss for the third consecutive toss and decided to bat first.
Vishwa Fernando, playing only his second Test, started reasonably well, finding Dhawan’s outside edge in his second over but the ball does not carry to the slip fielder. However, Lahiru Kumara’s wayward bowling allowed the Indian openers to settle down as he conceded 26 runs off his first three overs. By the time, Malinda Pushpakumara dismissed KL Rahul for 85, India had raced away to 188 off just 39.2 overs.
Vaas was scathing in his assessment of the fast-bowlers but the Sri Lanka bowling coach said that the pace duo made a strong comeback in the last two sessions of the day.
“I’m not happy with the way the fast bowlers bowled in the morning,” Vaas said on Saturday (August 12). “They bowled here and there. I’m not giving excuses. These guys are inexperienced. Vishwa is playing his second game and Lahiru is bowling his sixth. They didn’t bowl well. After lunch, they came back strongly and bowled pretty well. Especially the spinners. We kept them to 320 for the first day. I’m really, really happy with the spinners. At, in the end, the way Vishwa bowled in the last two spells was also good.”
Vaas further urged for patience with the inexperienced pacers.
“Yes, we have good fast bowlers, but Sri Lanka Cricket needs to wait for some time. They need to give some time to these fast bowlers. They haven’t played much cricket. If you see the Indian fast bowlers they have played about sixty games. We need to be patient. We’ll be able to get results from the fast bowlers.
“One thing is how we manage them in practices and the amount of cricket they play. The other thing is fitness as well. We need to manage them and look after them,” he said.
The former Sri Lanka pace spearhead also called the first-class cricket structure of the country and called for improvement.
“They (Vishwa Fernando and Lahiru Kumara) need to play more, I think. If you take our first-class cricket, they don’t have enough first-class experience to play well. If you take quicks from any country, they start bowling well after they have played 20-25 Tests only. We can’t suddenly expect a lot from Vishwa and Lahiru Kumara. But it’s with their mindset that they can improve. They need to practice a lot and play a lot of games. With that match experience only they will develop,” he said.
“We can’t be satisfied with the way first-class cricket is. We need to make first-class cricket work for fast bowlers. We talk a lot about what ails first-class cricket, but no matter how much we talk, the issue hasn’t moved forward. If we want to develop our cricket and increase the number of fast bowlers we have, if we want to do justice to our cricket, we need to make pitches that are suited to fast bowlers. If we do that I trust that our bowlers would be better off than they are now,” he added.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, managed to claw their back into the match by taking some quick wickets in the last two sessions of the day. Malinda Pushpakumara picked up three, Lakshan Sandakan picked up a couple while Fernando picked up one wicket as India finished the day on 329 for 6.