Saturday, August 12, 2017

Kandy Test: Sri Lanka unsure about their strategy after Galle, Colombo flop show

Virat Kohli during a press meet ahead of the third India-Sri Lanka Test in Kandy yesterday. Pic/ AP,PTI
Virat Kohli during a press meet ahead of the third India-Sri Lanka Test in Kandy yesterday. Pic/ AP,PTI

In Galle, Sri Lanka rolled out Plan A for India: Flat track, good for batting, try and scrape through with a draw and they lost by 303 runs. In Colombo came Plan B, a dry, spin-friendly pitch, turn the game into a lottery and hope to come up on top, and they lost by an innings and plenty.

Now you can't exactly blame them for not knowing what to do in Kandy, in the final Test, where they hope to avoid the ignominy of a 3-0 clean sweep.

On Friday morning, amidst drizzle and cloud, the pitch was lush green and unlike anything you might expect in the subcontinent.

By afternoon, when Sanath Jayasuriya, the chairman of selectors, had paid a visit to Geoffrey Dabare, the curator, the pitch had changed complexion. Although not quite bald, it was certainly anything but well grassed, and who knew what further changes awaited?

Not India, for sure. While the team opted to take Thursday off, they had to cool their heels yesterday, when rain forced a cancellation of their afternoon practice session. This meant that it had been a full 72 hours since Virat Kohli, the captain, had seen the surface.

Unsure over pitch
"It's quite a different situation but the management has gone to the stadium to have a look. We heard there were some changes to the pitch so they have gone to check how things look at this stage, so we will have more clarity on what we need to go in with," said Kohli on the eve of the match.

"But I haven't yet really gone in [to a Test either as captain or batsman] without looking at the wicket at least 8-10 hours before the game before this. So it's probably a different kind of situation."

What's also a different situation is being 2-0 up in an overseas series, with the possibility of blanking a beleaguered opposition out, but Kohli insisted that this was not on his mind.

Can India play Bhuvi?
India were forced to make one change, with Ravindra Jadeja suspended, and were most likely to go with Kuldeep Yadav, the 22-year-old chinaman bowler who impressed on his debut in Dharamsala.

Kohli suggested that wholesale changes were unlikely, but there was every chance that the conditions could prompt the team to look for a way to include Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a call they will take on match morning. Sri Lanka, without Nuwan Pradeep and Rangana Herath, go into the Test with an extremely young and inexperienced bowling attack. Just what plans or hopes they have, to avoid a 3-0 sweep, only time will tell.

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