Pakistan v Sri Lanka 2013-14

Pace attack's image has transformed - Lakmal

Andrew Fidel Fernando

January 14, 2014

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Suranga Lakmal appeals for an lbw, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 5th day, January 12, 2014
Suranga Lakmal: "We had the ability to swing and seam the ball, but Vaas aiya has come and helped us develop those things" © AFP
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Teams: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's pace attack arrived in the UAE with a poor reputation, but two Tests into the series, they may have already transformed their image, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal believes. Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep had been instrumental in the Dubai victory that has seen their team achieve an unassailable series lead, having taken seven wickets for 132 between them in the first innings of that match.

Fast bowling had appeared Sri Lanka's most conspicuous frailty before the series, and Rangana Herath's left-arm spin expected to be the major attacking threat, yet it is on the fast bowlers' tireless efforts that the team has achieved the biggest advantage in the field. Lakmal has claimed nine scalps at a better average than Herath to lead Sri Lanka's wicket-takers' list, and as a trio, the visiting pacemen have comfortably outbowled the opposition attack.

"In the past there was a feeling that the fast bowlers aren't effective, but we were able to change that idea in this tour," Lakmal said. "In the past months we have been working very hard, all three of us. We had a big plan coming here, that the two or three of us that get a chance to play have to do well. We've followed that and played well."

Lakmal credited bowling coach Chaminda Vaas for facilitating improvement, and in the UAE, the fast bowlers have adhered to the modus operandi Vaas himself had used on unhelpful Asian surfaces in the early stages of his career. A persistent dedication to line-and-length bowling and gradual increases in movement have been evident in Sri Lanka's efforts in the series, both of which are qualities Vaas has prescribed since taking the job last February.

"I had played in the 2011 series we had in the UAE, and actually a lot of wickets here don't help fast bowlers. So we had to come up with the strategy to put the ball in the same place over and over and over again, until the batsman makes a mistake. I think our success in the tour has been because we did that very well. There was some help from the Abu Dhabi wicket, but there wasn't as much help in Dubai in the last few sessions. But we were able to practice what we had learned, so we were able to put Pakistan in difficulty.

"We had the ability to swing and seam the ball, but Vaas aiya has come and helped us develop those things. Even if you seam the ball, if it's not in the right area, that ball is not useful. So those things we learned a little more. There are more things to develop, so we need to build on what we have achieved."

A focus on fitness and nutrition has also begun paying dividends. All three frontline pace bowlers have their origins outside Colombo's cricket structure, and had not been accustomed to bowling long spells for school teams. Eranga and Lakmal had only begun playing competitive cricket being discovered at pace competitions at 20, and though all three have several seasons of first-class cricket behind them, they rarely deliver more than 25 overs in those matches.

In the second Test Lakmal and Eranga bowled 49.3 and 50 overs respectively, having also bowled more than 40 overs each in the first match. There has been no marked dip in effort or pace throughout the series.

"Before this tour we had about a month and a half where we focused on fitness, because we know that in every match we need to bowl at least 35 overs. The three of us did the work together, with our trainer, and that has meant we're not finding it difficult at the moment."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by MichaelBurton on (January 16, 2014, 4:56 GMT)

@Yousufahmed1: You are quite right mate. Even they were not able to loose a test match to Zim and to loose/draw a test series to Zim. We managed to loose 2 test matches to Zim, loose a test series to Zim and draw a test series to Zim. See how much we are talented...

Posted by MichaelBurton on (January 16, 2014, 4:50 GMT)

@warneneverchuck: You are spot on mate. Even our Ind shouldn't be in top 4 if we fair play. Top 4 rankings should be SA, Aus, Eng and Pak.

Posted by MichaelBurton on (January 16, 2014, 4:04 GMT)

@warneneverchuck: Even our Ind shouldn't be in top 4 if we fair play. Top 4 rankings should be SA, Aus, Eng and Pak.

Posted by MichaelBurton on (January 16, 2014, 4:01 GMT)

@sidh78: Everything you are telling true mate. It is a fact that we hammered Lankan recently. Also, it is a fact that we got hammered at the hand of them and few of our players to quit international cricket career in Jayasurya era. But, none of these negate the fact that our players are a bunch of flat track kings excluding Kohli and Pujara and we don't have fast bowlers like Pak have or similar to new 3 Lankan quicks. Also, we have to accept that we control the ICC ranking through our behaviour and eat up the cricket.

Posted by Yuosufahmed on (January 16, 2014, 3:29 GMT)

@ SLslider: yes you are right mate. Your Lankan has 3-11 bad record against Ind in last 15 ODIs. But, there test and T20 records don't show much difference. In tests 5-7 and T20s 2-3. The problem is if this is good for a team like Ind who boasts about their world beating. Also when lower ranked countries like SL and Pak manage to go to the No. 1 SAs den and beat them in tests and ODIs while defacto No.2 Ind get humiliated there in both the tests and ODIs. For a country like SL who started their cricket playing much later and doesn't boast about their talent much, this performance is more than enough.

Posted by sidh78 on (January 16, 2014, 0:49 GMT)

@ sinhya when ganguly hammered 183 againat sl in worldcup 1999 where r u? when kohali thrashed u r best bowler malinga in hobart with highest econmy rate of 13 rpo where r u.when india thrashed sl team in their own backyard by 4-1 where are u?

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 15, 2014, 16:42 GMT)

@SLslider, when Sanath Jayasuriya hammered 152 in against India in Mumbai in 1997 May where were you? Where were you when Jayasuriya clobbered the Indians in the finals of 2008 Asia Cup in Karachi when Sri Lanka won it? What happened when Tharanga scored 174 last year in Jamaica against India? Fact is that Sri Lanka have thrashed India non stop in every corner of the world.

Posted by wapuser on (January 15, 2014, 12:00 GMT)

Feel sorry for the country of more than billon ppl, could not find a single man who could be called a BOWLER....

Posted by RSairam on (January 15, 2014, 10:52 GMT)

I dont know why this page is having some irrelevant comments..SL as a small cricketing nation can be proud of what they have achieved and as cricketers they have evolved to win in variety of conditions. This latest win definitely is another feather on the cap. They should look towards winning in India and Australia.. Just to correct - India won in Australia in 1980/81 and not as stated by few people here. And yes we have not beaten Pak often in Pak partly bcoz we dont get to play there often too. As a cricket watcher from 1990s I can say we have been unlucky in a few abroad tours not to have won more. It is definitely a shame to lose two series 4-0 and we are trying to recover from that..Some of the reasons are too much cricket and IPL. Somehow our bowlers get corrupted and lose test match line/lengths and patience. Lets appreciate good wins and that is the only way test cricket can survive. I certainly enjoyed the SL vs Pak series so far and hope it ends with another good test.

Posted by stormy16 on (January 15, 2014, 10:28 GMT)

Yes the SL attack did well and yes I saw alot of Vaas influence in the seamers and yes they moved the ball which is great but its only ONE test. Dont want to take away from the performance but its important not to get carried away with one performance. In the first test SL struggled to get wickets in the both innings but yes I agree, there was plenty to hold on to with what we saw in the second test and with more application of the same, the SL seam attack could finally be able to call itself a seam attack.

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