Sri Lanka mull change in bowling strategy
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews suggested his side needed to stray from their traditional Test match strategy at home to give themselves the best chance of beating Bangladesh in the second Test starting tomorrow at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Sri Lanka have depended on their spin bowling in home Tests in the past and have generally played on pitches conducive to turn early in the match. But a strong batting performance from Bangladesh in the first Test, during which they played the hosts' two frontline spinners with ease, and a Premadasa pitch likely to favour seam bowlers has made Mathews rethink his options.
In the last 17 home Tests, Sri Lanka have played only twice with fewer than two frontline slow bowlers in the side.
"We have to take 20 wickets to win a Test match and have to think how we are going to take those 20 wickets," Mathews said. "We have to go with a plan. When teams like Australia, England and New Zealand come to Sri Lanka, we get a lot of pitches that help spin bowlers, but I think Bangladesh play spin bowling well. We have to take stock of that situation."
Mathews said the pitch in Galle did not offer any assistance to bowlers, as batsmen amassed 1613 runs in the Test, but expected the pitch for the second Test to be better for the fast bowlers, stressing that the bowlers needed to be positive. The track has a thin layer of grass on the eve of the match and has also been better for fast bowlers since it was re-laid in 2010.
"It looks a very good sporting wicket - a seamer-friendly wicket. When you play against Bangladesh, you need to try and be as positive as you can," he said. "There is a possibility of an additional seamer coming in, but we haven't finalised our XI yet.
Mathews said Sri Lanka had worked on building a battery of reliable bowlers, and would not look to make drastic changes to the attack, despite its ineffectiveness during the first Test. "We haven't changed our bowling department in the recent past," he said. "When it comes Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath, they have always been there in the Test matches. It's not a case of us cutting and chopping. Herath will be our number one spinner and, if we opt for three seamers, Ajantha Mendis will probably sit out."
"We can't play one less batsman, because everyone is pretty set in their position. We have tried a couple of young batters and they have lived up to our expectations. We'll play four genuine bowlers."
Mathews stressed there was no additional pressure on the side after Bangladesh drew the first Test, having lost on all the previous occasions they had played Sri Lanka in Tests. "There's not really any added pressure. As I said before the first Test, Bangladesh have played some really good cricket in the recent past. They are a dangerous side and we can't underestimate them."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here