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News

Karunaratne wants Sri Lanka to 'reverse a little pressure' and put plans 'in motion' during pink-ball Test

Sri Lanka captain to go with two spinners for the Test as he hopes the team can give the retiring Suranga Lakmal a 'great farewell'

Dimuth Karunaratne rallies his fielders  •  BCCI

Dimuth Karunaratne rallies his fielders  •  BCCI

It's a pink-ball Test, which anyway tends not to be high-scoring. On top of which, this appears to be a very dry surface (i.e. spin-friendly pitch) at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Could that mean Sri Lanka are in with more of a chance here, than they had been Mohali? Dimuth Karunaratne hopes so. This is despite both Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera being unavailable, and Pathum Nissanka out as well.
But here, at least, they know they have to have a stronger spin attack than they did in Mohali, where they played just Lasith Embuldeniya as a frontline spin option, with Dhananjaya de Silva's part-time offspin, and Charith Asalanka's even more part-time offspin, in support. Left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama is likely to be in the XI on Saturday.
"We'll have to play two spinners," Karunaratne said. "In Bangalore you've got this black soil, and most likely it will turn a lot. It's very dry. They've cut most of the grass off. Although it's a pink-ball Test, we'll probably go with two frontline spinners and Dhananjaya de Silva."
Karunaratne hopes too, that even if India bat first, the pitch will offer enough to the spinners that the kind of huge first-innings score that India put up in Mohali is out of the question here. Sri Lanka were hamstrung in that bowling innings by the injury to Lahiru Kumara, who walked off the field on the first day and did not return to bowl thereafter, nursing a hamstring injury.
"We are working very hard and want to give everything for Suranga. He's someone who gives everything to the team as well."
Dimuth Karunaratne
Because India were able to capitalise and make 574 for 8, they were able to attack relentlessly with the ball, and Sri Lanka were unable to reverse pressure. If they can keep India to less in Bangalore, perhaps that will have consequences for Sri Lanka's batting innings as well.
"In the first match, we saw lots of turn from Ravindra Jadeja but didn't see a lot of turn from R Ashwin, or Jayant Yadav. Because they had a huge total in the first innings, they put a lot of catching fielders in and attacked us. They didn't use in-out fields. They wanted us to defend as much as possible. We wanted to try and spread the field by attacking.
"This match will be quite different. If we can reverse a little pressure and get an in-out field, we can play some more risk-free cricket and rotate the singles. We tried that in the past game, but because they were so far ahead in the game, it didn't work."
This match is Suranga Lakmal's last in Tests. He has been Sri Lanka's seam-bowling spearhead for the last decade, more-or-less, though this has been a decade in which Sri Lanka's own pitches have essentially neutered him, because they've been so dry. A pink ball, though, could envenom Lakmal. He averages less than 20 in the two day-night Tests Sri Lanka have played so far.
"We're trying very hard to give Suranga a great farewell," Karunaratne said. "We haven't come here just to play. We want to win a Test somehow, and do something that hasn't been done before. We have a big expectation. From day one till the last day we know what we have to do, but we have to put that in motion. We are working very hard and want to give everything for Suranga. He's someone who gives everything to the team as well."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf