KOLKATA: Even though Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake on Thursday hailed Suranga Lakmal's majestic spell of swing bowling which brought the Indian top-order to its knees on day one of the first cricket Test here, he threw caution to the wind by saying that the job is only half done.
Lakmal sent Lokesh Rahul (0), Shikhar Dhawan (8) and skipper Virat Kohli (0) back in the hut with India tottering at 17/3 at stumps in a rain-affected match at the Eden Gardens. Only an hour of play was possible throughout the day with only 11.5 overs bowled.
"It's one of the finest I have seen for a long time. Not sure whether it's the best. The wicket was receptive and helpful. It's going to be a big challenge. Looking at the wicket, we knew it was going to swing. By saying that job is not finished it has only just started," Ratnayake told reporters after Lakmal took three wickets in six overs, all of which were maidens.
Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and straightaway elected to field on a green top track.
"Yes, it was a good toss to win. Personally I feel it (pitch's seam-friendly conditions) might last one and half days or more. Since it's a new wicket it might be another extra day or so.
"The surface is grassy. It is surprising to see such a wicket in recent times in the subcontinent," the bowling coach said.
Ratnayake's advice to the bowlers were to pitch the ball up keeping in the mind the carry on the wicket.
"It is very similar to that of old. My advice was simple, we had to keep the ball up. As you may push the batsman back, it's important that we keep it up. As you have seen, the movement or vulnerability was more as ball was pitched up. The tactics in a normal wicket would be but on this wicket it was totally different," he said.
Asked if Test cricket needs wickets like these, Ratnayake said: "As a fast bowling coach I would love to say that. But if you're looking at going through five days, I don't know whether that's the best option.
"When you have a grassy pitch, I believe it's a 50-50 chance for both the teams. If that's the option one wants to take why not. As a fast bowling coach I would love to play on wickets like these. But for a batsman it might be a nightmare."
Lahiru Gamage, playing only his second Test, bowled a defensive line and did not get any wicket in his 5.5 overs. He conceded 16 runs.
"Did you see a difference after the stop-over? That was the difference. It was a matter of him getting his rhythm right and more importantly the timing also right," Ratnayake explained.
"He was not having that right so he got it after and when you get the rhythm and the timing right ou get the place where you want to hit it much easier way for the body. As much you need timing in batting, you need timing in bowling. If you rush through the delivery, the chances of you hitting the right place is not as great as when your timing is right."
Ratnayake feels for them the par score would be 200. "I don't know the par score.. India might say 250 but we might say 200. It might differ from whom you are asking."