Rumesh Ratnayake, the Sri Lankan bowling coach, warned his team to not lose the initiative in the second Test following Pakistan’s unexpected and spectacular fightback on the third day.
Sri Lanka lost five early wickets in their second innings for just 34 runs in the pink-ball Test on Sunday (October 8), but still have an overall lead of 254 which could be enough to win the second Test and the series. Sri Lanka won the first Test by 21 runs in Abu Dhabi.
“They are such a good side and unpredictable as well,” said Ratnayake, the former paceman. “We shouldn’t forget that they are a good bowling side although Mohammad Amir is missing. They bowled exceptionally well in those 15 overs.
“They certainly did bowl better than us in the last 15 overs on Saturday, even though we bounced back on Sunday afternoon to bowl them out. It is up to us now to rethink and redo the things that we did in the first innings.”
Sri Lanka piled up 482 in the first innings with Dimuth Karunaratne, the opener, fashioning a career-best 196, and then bowled out Pakistan for 262 for a big lead of 220.
But Wahab Riaz, the hitherto struggling paceman, took three wickets in a hostile spell to give Sri Lanka a scare.
“It was unexpected. The processes were lost in the midst,” admitted Ratnayake. “The boys started out saying that we needed to play out 15 overs. We were thinking of those 15 overs and not the processes. Hopefully, things will work out for us on day four.”
Ratnayake backed the decision not to enforce follow-on. “The reason was that we felt that it was very hot and the bowlers wouldn’t have been able to go through the strenuous heat. We collectively thought that we should bat again. ”
However, he refused to blame the Dubai pitch for Sri Lanka’s slide on day three. “I don’t blame the pitch. Most of the shots that we played were due to bad selection. We have to recollect tomorrow and do things differently. There is nothing wrong with the pitch.”
Ratnayake, who played 23 Tests for Sri Lanka, praised his pace trio of Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage and Nuwan Pradeep.
“The way Lakmal and Pradeep have bowled throughout the series is praiseworthy,” said Ratnayake. “We worked on simple things. We worked on angles. We worked on areas on the fourth and fifth stumps. We had option ‘A’ and option ‘B’. If one thing didn’t work, we wanted to get back to the others. I don’t want to elaborate as they are team secrets. They executed that very well. It wasn’t express pace other than Pradeep.”
Ratnayake hoped Lasith Malinga, the pace spearhead, would stage a comeback in the Twenty20 International series after being axed from the One-Day International squad.
“I am sure he will come into the picture when the T20s are around. Once his injuries are through, he is an exceptional bowler and the whole world knows it. He has shown his grit and guts in the past and I am sure he will work his way through.”