Colombo: Back in the side, fit-again Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal hopes to revive his team's flagging fortunes in the second Test with a match-winning effort, similar to the one he produced against India two years ago.
It was his audacious hundred against India at Galle in 2015 that had turned the tide for his team. He repeated that performance against Australia as well, and will look to inspire his troops once again after a heavy loss in the first Test.
"It was a really good knock. After that knock we won that game. When you are playing with a really good team like India, you have to take risks when you are batting or bowling. If you can do that, you can perform well in this kind of things. That’s what I did in Galle two years ago. I’m looking forward to doing well in this series,” Chandimal said on the eve of the second Test at Colombo.
The skipper said his side is prepared to tackle the high-quality Indian spinners.
"We are always talking about unity, attitude, progress, discipline, and what Sri Lanka are used to playing with: passion. If we get those five things right, then the result will be good.
"We’ve been doing all the tough work. Preparing for turning pitches, and playing reverse sweeps and sweeps. We just want to improve as a batting unit. Everyone has scored 50-60 runs, but they couldn’t make the big ones. That’s what we’ve been discussing in the meetings and practices," he said.
Chandimal had missed the first Test due to pneumonia, and is now cleared to play in this second Test, albeit with some riders attached.
"I am much better. Thanks to the ICC they gave permission for me to use the inhaler, and that will help me breathe properly. Rangana Herath is also fit to play," said Chandimal.
The hosts have backed up their bowling resources with ample spin options and are expected to field a spin-heavy attack, despite a good sprinkling of grass on the wicket.
They will also be looking to make changes in the batting line-up owing to the injury sustained by Asela Gunaratne. Senior batsman Lahiru Thirimanne has been called up as his replacement.
Talking about Herath and Thirimanne, Chandimal said: "Rangana is a legend. He is a match-winner in the last 7-8 years. If we can play with him, he can give experience to Malinda Pushpakumara.
"That’s what we want to do. This is a really good opportunity if Malinda plays, to benefit from Rangana’s experience in the middle and the dressing room. I hope both are going to do really good things.
“Thirimanne is a player with lots of experience. Especially in Tests he’s a very important player. His having come into the team is a big boost to our batting department. We have been training for three days, and everyone is in a good mental space. Everyone is looking at how we can win this game,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s task will be cut out though as India look to gain an unassailable lead at a ground where they wrapped a 2-1 series win in 2015, the first here in 22 years.
"At the moment, India is the No 1 team. They’ve played some really good cricket in the last 2-3 years. Credit goes to them.
"They are a very talented team, but we aren’t going to lose 0-3. We want to go and win. We are looking to give our best and win this game, level the series and then go to the third match. We have the determination to do that," Chandimal signed off.