Dinesh Chandimal was a pleased man on Wednesday (December 6) after his side salvaged a draw in the third Test against India with some gritty batting .
Chasing 410 to win the match in Delhi and level the series, it was the young pack of Dhananjaya de Silva (119 retired hurt), Roshen Silva (74) and Niroshan Dickwella (44) who battled the odds to save the Test. Chandimal, who since the start of the tour had stressed that Sri Lanka had come to win, saw good signs in how they went about their business in the series.
“We got so many youngsters for this series. We have a good attitude, and if that is there, the best result will come. The attitude is good and so is the discipline. I can move forward with this team,” he said.
The second Test, where they conceded an innings defeat to Indian within four days, had been a wake-up call, he said. “After the second game, we sat down as a team and especially with the batting unit we discussed how to get our approach for the third match to plan. Before the third Test, we had two practice sessions. Finally, when [the batsmen] went out today, they executed [the plans] and delivered,” he added.
The skipper was especially generous in his praise for Dhananjaya, who made a fighting century. “It was a really good innings,” said Chandimal. “We picked him after the Windies A team tour and he played some good innings there. We had to trust playing him at No. 3 and some bowling option as well. It was an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands.”
The Delhi Test also featured unprecedented scenes of players, especially from the visiting team, physically struggling because of the pollution in the city. Chandimal termed it as a “tough time”. “We are not used to this kind of conditions. In Sri Lanka, you won’t get this much pollution,” he said. “At the same time, we needed to play the game. So, after the first two days, we had a discussion with the team and said we need to forget about the conditions and play the game. That’s what everyone did. We finally learnt how to face such conditions in the future.
“We did not discuss about smog and stuff in the dressing room or when we are going back to the hotel. We can control what we can.”
Assessing his side’s bowling effort in the series, Chandimal felt it was a challenge bowling to Indian batsmen. The absence of Rangana Herath, the veteran left-arm spinner who missed the third Test with injury, only made it more difficult. “If we need to win a Test, we need to take 20 wickets. Our seamers bowled well at practice and put their heart and soul into it during the match. [But] as a bowling unit, we need to work on coming up with very good plans and a different approach for the next series,” he said.