Holder confident of better fielding show
The costly drops and missed run-outs in the Galle Test have spurred West Indies to renew their focus on fielding in the approach to the second Test, captain Jason Holder said. The visitors had reprieved Sri Lanka batsmen on at least six occasions - the costliest of which was the drop off Dinesh Chandimal on 11. The batsman went on to hit 151.
After that match, Holder had suggest Sri Lanka's total of 484 would have been significantly reduced if his team had held their chances. It is the area they have focused primarily on, during the four-day gap between games, he said.
"In the last few days we've done a lot of analysing - we've looked at a lot of footage. We've come in the practice sessions in the last few days and paid a lot of attention to our fielding.
"From my point of view, I think practice does a lot for fielding. When you get in the habit of doing something repeatedly it becomes the norm. That's something we try to stress in the dressing room - to practice properly and do it in a sense that fits a game scenario. We try to replicate a match scenario in our fielding drills. We've picked up the volume of our fielding over the last few days, so hopefully we'll be in better stead for this game."
West Indies batting had also faltered in Galle, with only two batsmen passing fifty across two innings. The visitor's first-innings performance had been particularly disappointing, partly because each of the top 10 moved into double figures, but only Darren Bravo went on to hit a half-century. Holder said his top order had been urged to improve their shot selection.
"We've done a lot of talking in the dressing room and different of batsmen come up with different things. I think it boils down to guys just digging a little deeper. We saw that we all got starts. It's an opportunity for guys to put their heads down and dig a little deeper. I think that's needed in the second Test match.
"I think we've got to be selective and just to play to your personal game plan. Just said to the guys, 'Be positive, but be selective.' Once you're selective and you're patient enough you will get runs. It's all about occupying the crease and spending as much time as possible."
Among those who did not spend time at the crease was Marlon Samuels, who collected 11 and a first-ball duck from his two innings in Galle. Samuels was also reported for a suspect action after the Test. Holder said Samuels' role as a top order batsman who bowls offspin does not change for this Test, and backed him to come good with the bat. All reported bowlers can bowl in internationals until their action is found to be illegal.
"Marlon's just had a bad game - that's Test cricket," Holder said. "What's important is for Marlon to come back stronger. He's one of the guys who digs deep when his back is against the wall. I'm not saying that his back is against the wall now, but he obviously got two low scores in the last Test match. He's quite eager to get in this second Test match and get a score for the team."
Garfield Sobers has arrived in the country ahead of the second Test, and will attend the match alongside former Sri Lanka captain Michael Tissera. The series trophy is named for both men. Holder hoped Sobers' presence would spur his side.
"I personally saw Garfield Sobers yesterday in the hotel lobby. It was inspiring to see him come all this way just to watch the series. I'm sure most of the guys know of his presence and know that he's here. I hope we can go ahead in this Test match and win it for him."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando