Sri Lanka try to play spin during long practice session ahead of warm-up tie
KOLKATA: Looking to climb a mountain against a virtually unbeatable India at home, Sri Lanka batsmen were seen negotiating spin and trying a lot of paddle-sweep shots during their long practice session ahead of the two-day warm-up game against Board President's XI starting here on Saturday.
Led by Dinesh Chandimal, the Lankans -- coming on the back of a 2-0 Tests whitewash of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- the tourists toiled hard against local spinners for close to three hours in the morning.
The two-day tour match will take place at the Jadavpur University campus ground here.
Chinaman Lakshan Sandakan, who returned career-best figures of 5/132 against India in Pallekele during the first innings of the third Test three months back, bowled a lot of overs at the nets while veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was restricted to a few overs.
Herath -- with 405 Test wickets from 85 matches -- is their highest wicket-taker in the side. The 39-year-old was also seen playing the mentor's role and advising the youngsters. Alongwith Herath, all-rounder Angelo Mathews was part of the Sri Lankan team that toured India in 2009.
Sri Lanka are without the services of promising batsman Kusal Mendis in this series with the selectors wanting to protect him from a further potential loss of form and confidence in India.
Mendis endured a modest Test series against Pakistan, in which his contributions were 10, 18, 1 and 29. Although he made an excellent century against India in August, he had crossed 50 in only two of his last 14 innings.
In his place, Dhananjaya de Silva, who fared well for Sri Lanka A on the West Indies tour with scores of 104, 73 and 64, was also seen sweating it out at the nets.
It is also a comeback for Mathews who could not play against Pakistan due to injury. Mathews also spent a lot of time at the nets.
After practice, the Lankans chose not to speak to the waiting media on the eve of their warm-up tie.
Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson will lead a third-string Board President's XI on Saturday against the Lankans. Samson on Friday made it clear that it would not be a "practice game" for them. Rather they would like to cash in on the opportunity of playing a top quality Test side.
Due to the ongoing Ranji Trophy, the Board has opted for an outfit primarily comprising players from Hyderabad, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab who are not featuring in the ongoing fifth round of the domestic meet.