KOLKATA: Playing India home and away in the space of three months is going to make this new Sri Lankan side, coach Nic Pothas said on Monday.
Sri Lanka gave a good account of themselves in the rain-affected five-day match losing to Virat Kohli's unbeaten 104 in the second innings and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 4/8 in their chase of 231 on the fifth day.
The tourists were the better side in all the other sessions of the game where 551 minutes were lost due to rain and bad light.
"I think these two series back to back against India is going to be the making for Sri Lanka. When you play against quality teams under pressure, you become better," Pothas told reporters here.
India came tantalisingly close to winning the five-day affair, reducing Sri Lanka to 75/7 chasing 231 after skipper Kohli hit his 50th international hundred to steer India to 352/8 decl.
In the first innings, India were shot out for 172 with Sri Lanka taking a 122-run lead by putting up 294 on the board.
Pothas said after their 2-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the recently played Test series in the United Arab Emirates, they would want to ride the wave of good momentum and take it forward.
"You always set a goal to improve. We played a series in Sri Lanka where we did not compete at all.
"We have been competitive in the first Test. That's a huge positive and credit to all the support staff and players how they have gone about strategising for this game. This series is three games long but the takeaway is we got tougher and got tougher.
"We had some success in the UAE and we played some good cricket here. We would want to ride that wave," the South African said.
In the 19th over of Sri Lanka's second innings, wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella was engaged in a heated exchange with India pacer Mohammed Shami with skipper Virat Kohli also getting engaged. Umpire Nigel Llong had to intervene.
Asked about that, Pothas said that's how players earn respect for each other.
"It's fantastic. Test match cricket, tough conditions...it's a cauldron and that's how players earn respect for eachother. It was played well I thought," he said.
Pothas added the process for this young Sri Lankan side to improve started after India thrashed them at home 9-0 in July-August.
"The process began in Sri Lanka against India.The day the Indian team flew out the process began. We are not going to be counting our chickens now that we have played good cricket in Pakistan as we have a long way to go. This side will be a good one in future there is no doubt."