Sri Lanka ready to face challenges in India tour

Islanders’ coach Nic Pothas said the team learnt from its loss to India at home earlier this year; skipper Dinesh Chandimal wants to start well as a unit.

Sri Lanka beat Pakistan 2-0 under Dinesh Chandimal's (in pic) leadership in October.   -  AFP

After the 3-0 home Test series loss to India in August, an internally transformed Sri Lanka hopes to deal with the number one Test side better in the forthcoming series, starting at the Eden Gardens here from November 16.

Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said the team learnt from its defeat against India. “The series against India was a huge learner for us. If we didn't learn from a very good team, then we would have made the biggest ever mistake. We learnt what India did very well and the areas we needed to improve,” Pothas said at the Sri Lankan team's arrival press conference here on Thursday.

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Sri Lanka went on to beat Pakistan 2-0 in the following Test series in UAE even though it lost all of its seven limited overs matches to the same opponent.

Pothas said playing in India would pose a different challenge. “Not many teams have come here and won. But what changed for us is internally — the discipline, the culture and how the team stuck together and the characters that we picked. Skill and preparation have changed as well.

“When we took on India, we were all pretty new — from the support staff to the players. We now have pride in our culture."

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The South African chose to highlight the positives. “There are not too many people who have the joy of playing India back to back. It's always a pleasure to come here and challenge ourselves against a very good team.

“The mistake you can make here is, come and be infatuated with the Indian side and concentrate too much on them. We know they are a good side, but we played them only a month ago. We are concentrating on our strengths and jobs. If we execute them well, it will be a challenging series.”

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Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal shared the ambition of his team, which would play a Test series on Indian soil after eight years and a five-day match at the Eden Gardens for the first time. “We have never won a Test in India, it's a dream for everyone. The first match we are playing in Kolkata. It's always a pleasure to play in front of the Kolkata spectators. We need to start well as a team.

“This is my first Test tour to India. Apart from Angelo (Mathews) and Rangana (Herath), others are having a first tour here. It's a really good challenge for everyone.”

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Chandimal took inspiration from Sri Lanka's Test series win over Pakistan and hoped to tackle India and its ace spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, successfully. “India has played some really good cricket in last two years. Our team has done really well against Pakistan. As a team we have something up our sleeves, we need to execute that on the field to compete. You will see our plans in one week's time,” said Chandimal.

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