NAGPUR: Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas today clarified that there were "no demons" in the VCA stadium track and rued the manner in which six of his batsmen got out to straight deliveries on the first day of the second Test against India here.
"The wicket has got no demons. It hasn't spun, it hasn't seamed. There were six straight ball dismissals. At the international level it's no surprise that Ravindra Jadeja bowls straight balls. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja got wickets bowling stump to stump.
"At this level, you can't be missing straight balls," Pothas said at the end of the first day's play when his team skittled out for a meagre 205.
Pothas said that at best, the ball was skidding at the Jamtha strip.
"In the last series, the wickets spun. You are talking of the two top spinners (Ashwin and Jadeja) of the world. It was a different kettle of fish. Here the wicket didn't do anything. All what it has done was to skid on a bit. On a wicket that hasn't done much, we lost seven wickets to spin.
"It is a disappointing change room as the guys have set themselves high standards. They are going to be disappointed. In any process, you are going to have those disappointments."
Pothas conceded that the timing of skipper Dinesh Chandimal's decision to play a reverse sweep to Ashwin was "not the best", even though there was a need to show positive intent.
"The captain made a decision at that point of time. We empower the batsmen to make decisions in the middle. He (Chandimal) obviously felt that (reverse sweep) was the way to score runs at that point but it didn't come off. I probably would say that may be the timing of that shot was perhaps not at his best."
Ashwin came round the wicket to get wickets of Chandimal and Shanaka. Quizzed on the off-spinner's strategy, the Lanka coach said: "It's a change of angle. Ashwin is an intelligent bowler with some subtle variations. He is going to be handful on any wicket he is going to play. But that's not the first time that we have faced right-arm off-spin from round the wicket. At the time, you are asking batsmen to adapt and be flexible for conditions."
The coach however shielded Niroshan Dickwella, whose irresponsible shot selection led to a batting collapse with Sri Lanka losing six wickets for 45 runs.
"In hindsight, that's what the numbers tell you. We let ourselves down from that point onwards. You can't say that because Niroshan Dickwella got out, the rest can also get out! Dickwella is a positive batter and that's a shot (whip through mid-wicket) he plays well."
"I don't want to stop him from being himself. I want people to bat the way they bat and he is kind of player who transfers pressure back to the bowlers."
Pothas' defence about scoring only 47 runs in 27 overs during the first session of Day one was, however, a bit weak.
"First session of a Test match, you try to set a base and try to bat for a long time. You try and bat for a day if you win the toss, new ball spells are always tough and you try to blunt that. I thought India bowled well, I don't think there were too many free balls going that we missed out on, but we adapted after lunch."