Sri Lanka struggle adjusting to West Indies pace

Sri Lanka fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara said the step up in class facing the West Indies pace attack provided a stiffer challenge than what his side faced in the tri-series opener against Zimbabwe

Nuwan Kulasekara said Sri Lanka's batsmen are not used to facing bowlers with the height and bounce of Jason Holder  •  AFP

Nuwan Kulasekara said Sri Lanka's batsmen are not used to facing bowlers with the height and bounce of Jason Holder  •  AFP

Sri Lanka barely broke a sweat while easing past Zimbabwe in the Tri-Series opener, but West Indies' pace and bounce proved a rather more testing assignment in their second match, with Sri Lanka bowled out for 165 in pursuit of West Indies' 227. Nuwan Kulasekara said that the Sri Lankans will have to adjust as quickly as possible to the varying attacks if they are to bounce back when the series moves to Bulawayo.
"Zimbabwe, they have talent, but they tend to bowl 120 to 130 kph," Kulasekara said. "West Indies' bowlers have height that gives them bounce, and [Shannon] Gabriel always bowls 140 plus. [Jason] Holder bowled really nicely today too, getting that outswing. You just have to adjust as soon as possible. That's the main thing. We have to improve for the next few matches in the batting department, because they have height and get bounce on these wickets."
Kulasekara is returning to international duty with Sri Lanka after 10 months on the sidelines, and his own returns from his first two matches have been decent. Displaying good control with the new ball, he picked up two wickets against West Indies to go with his two in the first match against Zimbabwe, and also removed Kraigg Brathwaite and Holder with direct hits in the field.
"I've been doing even more fielding practices with my fielding coach, and I always try my best," Kulasekara said. "My last game was against New Zealand in January. It's nice to come back to the side. I've been very happy with my performances in the last two games."
With the experience of 175 ODIs to draw from, Kulasekara has slotted back into this Sri Lankan touring squad as a senior. This is also his fourth tour of Zimbabwe, and he has been very willing to share his knowledge of conditions in the country with the less experienced members of his team.
"As seniors, we always discuss [game plans] with the younger players. I played two matches in Bulawayo in 2010, the wickets there are much flatter than Harare. Slow and low bounce. You have to adjust as a batsman, and we'll have to bowl different lengths in Bulawayo. We'll make our plans in the next few days for that.
At 34, Kulasekara is also philosophical about his own place in the side. "Yeah, there's always pressure that comes with playing for the national team. So youngsters come in, and they put pressure on the senior players. Senior players go into retirement, and youngsters come and grab their places. That's the way it goes."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town