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Pothas says Lankans better equipped for India

Smarting under the 3-0 home Test series loss to India in August, an ‘internally-transformed’ Sri Lanka hopes to deal with the top-ranked Test side better in the forthcoming series, starting at the Eden Gardens on November 16.

Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said the team had learnt from its defeat against India. “The series 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,” said Pothas at the team’s arrival press conference on Thursday.

Sri Lanka went on to beat Pakistan 2-0 in the following Test series in the Gulf 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 has changed for us is internal — 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 are now a team that prides itself on its culture.”

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

“The mistake you can make is come here 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 few months ago. We have concentrated on our strengths and jobs. If we execute them well, it will be a challenging series.”

Sri Lanka 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), it’s the first tour for the others too. It’s a really good challenge for everyone.”

Chandimal took inspiration from the series win over Pakistan, and hoped to tackle India and its ace spinners R. 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 a week’s time,” said Chandimal.

The Sri Lankans took part in a practice session in the afternoon. (Courtesy The Hindu)

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