KOLKATA: Sri Lanka were finally able to pose a challenge to India in the first Test after being hammered in the home series and that, according to chief coach Nic Pothas, was a huge positive.
"We did not compete at all in the series in Sri Lanka. We have been very competitive here in the first Test that's a huge positive, credit to everyone in the team and the support staff. We got tougher, we got success in UAE and played well here," Pothas said at the post-match media conference.
Sri Lanka were routed at home 0-9 across three formats by India three months ago but they bounced back to win two Tests against Pakistan in UAE.
Pace spearhead Suranga Lakmal troubled India in both the innings in a match haul of seven wickets and it was Virat Kohli's unbeaten 104 in the second innings that swung the momentum in the final two sessions.
Pothas said the side which is in transition after the departure of two legends -- Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara -- are up for the challenges.
"Process began in Sri Lanka absolutely. Things like that do not happen overnight. We are certainly not going to be counting our chickens... We played a couple of good Tests against Pakistan, were competitive here but we have a long way to go. This side is going to be a very good side looking into the future there's no doubt." Sri Lanka, however, collapsed to 75/7 in their second essay with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami unleashing their fury but it did not bother Pothas.
"It's always a concern when you lose seven wickets. But the more often you play, I think these two series back to back against India will help in making of the Sri Lankan team of the future.
"You become better when you play against a quality team under pressure. It's a concern but I'm more excited about how we fought and came out of it, looking back at all four days." Despite little to play for after two rain-curtailed days, India and Sri Lanka played hard for a win with words being exchanged frequently on the field.
"It's fantastic, isn't it? It's Test match cricket. It's a tough environment, it's a cauldron and that's how players earn respect from each other. I thought it was played fantastically well. Very tough, high pressured game." "We bowled very well, we fielded very well and the intensity was good. We did have India under pressure. Virat played a fantastic innings to set up a very good game of Test match cricket. I don't think anything went wrong. It was a very good cricket from both sides," he concluded.