Sri Lanka should play fearless cricket in England

This is a young Sri Lankan team that needs to grow and develop. There are going to be some bumps along the way but they have to keep bouncing back stronger. It’s a long tour and there is an opportunity for the team to build confidence and grow stronger as the series progresses. They just need to break it down and focus on each and every session rather than worrying about the end result.

Suranga Lakmal, along with Chameera Dushmantha and Rangana Herath, can test the English batsmen.   -  Getty Images

Sri Lanka fashioned a heroic 100-run victory at the Headingly Test in 2014. The ground in Leeds will host the first Test this time round.   -  Getty Images

As Sri Lanka embark on their two-month tour of England — the first Test starts on May 19 at Headingley, Leeds — no-one expects it to be easy. This is a very tough tour for a very inexperienced and young squad. However, Sri Lanka must approach the Test series with confidence and adopt a positive approach. We have shown in the recent past that we can adapt to conditions and challenge England in their own backyard and I genuinely believe we can be a nuisance as long as we play our natural game.

 

There is no doubt that England are the favourites. They have developed greatly as a team over the past 24 months and have a strong core of players. The team has stability, with individual players having clarity with regard to their roles within the squad. They are well-balanced with a strong and deep batting line-up, backed-up with a vastly experienced and skilful bowling attack that is both potent and varied.

While England may be a well-oiled unit, Sri Lanka need to focus their attention on how to disrupt them. As mentioned, we have proven in the past that we can apply pressure in English conditions and win Test matches. England’s batting line-up is strong, but Sri Lanka actually possess a bowling attack that can create issues. The likes of Dammika Prasad (fitness permitting), Suranga Lakmal, Chameera Dushmantha and Rangana Herath can be a threat if they bowl to their potential.

If that attack is going to have a chance of winning matches, the key is going to be how the batsmen cope against England’s attack. On paper, given the shortage of experience, this is where Sri Lanka are most vulnerable and this means that a lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, the two batting pillars of this team.

Angelo has had a lot of success in England and will have fond memories of the last tour in 2014, when he scored brilliant back-to-back hundreds — 102 in the first innings of the first Test at Lord’s and 160 in the second innings of the second Test at Leeds.

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His greatest challenge is perhaps his mental preparation and coping with the added pressure that comes with being the premier batsman in the team. England’s bowlers will be targeting him for sure, aware that a poor series for Angelo is going to leave Sri Lanka in a very weak position. He has shown, though, in the past that he thrives under pressure.

In the case of Dinesh, I am hoping we see him play his natural attacking game. I believe, he is at his best when he is trying to be positive and looking to score runs. He does not need to be reckless, but the positive intent needs to be there. If he gets away then he can score runs briskly and put the pressure back on the English bowlers.

Not just Dinesh, but I hope the other batsmen too adopt a positive approach. When you tour England, everyone talks a lot about conditions. However, batting conditions are often excellent and the adjustments that need to be made to your technique or approach are actually quite small. We have seen plenty of runs plundered in the summer thus far and I see no reason why the guys can’t score big hundreds if they go out and search for runs rather than focus on survival.

It will definitely be important to start well. Sri Lanka does not want to gift England the upper hand with a poor display in the first Test. Hopefully, the fact that we start in Headingley — the scene of a great win in 2014 (Sri Lanka won by 100 runs) — will inspire the guys. There are several players in the team, who will have very fond memories of that classic match and those positive memories can be very powerful and useful.

Even if they do start badly, it’s important for the guys to just keep fighting. This is a young team that needs to grow and develop. There are going to be some bumps along the way but they have to keep bouncing back stronger.

It’s a long tour and there is an opportunity for the team to build confidence and grow stronger as the series progresses. They just need to break it down and focus on each and every session rather than worrying about the end result. It should be a fascinating series. I hope the weather is good and we get to see some exciting cricket from some of our up and coming youngsters.