Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake has said that the wicket at Pallekele, Test cricket's newest venue, didn't help the bowlers like they had expected. Chris Gayle was out lbw to the first ball of the match, but the home side managed only one other wicket in the 40 overs that were possible on yet another rain-shortened day.
"We didn't know anything about the wicket. There was some moisture and we thought we can capitalise on that. It didn't seam that much. The first ball was a good one, but it didn't seam or swing. We had a good start. We expected the wicket to do a lot, but it didn't do as much as we expected."
Ramanayake also gave credit to Darren Bravo and Devon Smith, who added 115 for the second wicket in 32.1 overs, with Smith making 55 before Ajantha Mendis got him with the carrom ball. "[Darren] Bravo and [Devon] Smith batted well too. Test cricket is like that. You can't expect to lose wickets every over or in every session. Sometimes you don't get a wicket. There was only one spell where we didn't bowl well, but I thought we had a good spell in the first session,"
Sri Lanka were compelled to play Dilhara Fernando after Nuwan Kulasekara was ruled out with a side strain. An MRI scan revealed a small tear and team management felt it was better not to play him, though he is expected to be fit for the ODIs. Fernando wound up having both Smith and Darren dropped off his bowling, and ended the day wicketless.
Ramanayake said they made the decision to go with Fernando because they didn't want to risk another inexperienced bowler in the side, with Suranga Lakmal playing in just his second Test. "We expected Dilhara to get a few wickets. We had only 40 overs and still he can come back and take wickets. He struggled in the first spell with his run up, but he was getting better as he bowled more overs. The first few overs I felt the same. He was unfortunate not to pick up a few wickets.
"It would have been a different game had those two catches been taken. I still feel he can deliver and he can bowl well tomorrow. They would have been three or four down by the end of the day. I feel if we can get one or two wickets early, we can wrap them up. From No.1 to No.4 they have some good batsmen, but from thereon we can pick up wickets. Had we got one more wicket, it would have been ideal."