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Lanka should not lower their guard

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Winning the first Test of a series and going one-up is what every nation strives for. But having achieved that and to lose the advantage of it is unpardonable. This is what Sri Lanka must guard against for in recent times they have this unusual habit of winning the first Test at Galle and then conceding the second Test to the opposition.

There have been numerous occasions where it has happened at home to Sri Lanka – since the turn of the century on eight occasions - the last being against Bangladesh in 2017 where they won at Galle but lost the second at the P Sara Oval to suffer their maiden Test defeat against that nation.

Since 2010 they have suffered similar losses to India (twice), England and New Zealand and the hoodoo ground for the second Test has been the P Sara Oval.

“If you take the New Zealand game, we won in Galle and lost at P. Sara the same thing with England. We need to adapt to conditions true, but this is a different venue. Our preparation has been great and I am pretty sure the boys will deliver,” said veteran spinner Rangana Herath looking ahead at the second Test against South Africa starting at the SSC grounds today.

“At any cost we have to remember that South Africa are a very dangerous side. They will bounce back I am sure. But we have a bit of different plans and I am sure they will also have different plans. Our preparations have been great,” he said.

Despite being suspended from the two Tests against South Africa it has not stopped captain Dinesh Chandimal and coach Chandika Hathurusingha from coming and assisting the team in its preparations.

“True that we don’t have a captain or coach for the game, but if you see at the nets, both Hathu and Chandi were there and the preparation was good. Without them we cannot go that far. Only during the game they are not there, but they are behind us,” said Herath.

Sri Lanka has not won a series against South Africa since 2006 and the current two-Test series gives them the best opportunity to do so again having taken a 1-0 lead with a comprehensive 258-run win at Galle in the first Test.

“It is very important that we win the series. They are the number two ranked team. We need to win and gain confidence and this is going to be a crucial game,” said Herath.

“Firstly, when you win the mentality is good. All the players are contributing. Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera and Dimuth (Karunaratne) were our key players in Galle. I am sure we will go from strength to strength.

“Dimuth’s one hundred and fifty were remarkable. He set up the game and set a fine example. We have got to learn from him. Have a chat to him and find out what worked for him. Pretty pleased with the way he played,” Herath said.

The SSC track is generally renowned to assist fast bowlers in the initial stages and turn out to be a batting paradise before helping the spinners by the end of the fourth day or so.

But in this instance with South Africa possessing arguably the best fast bowling attack in contemporary cricket in the likes of Rabada, Steyn, Philander and Ngidi the pitch in preparation will be considerably slowed down and made as dry as ever to assist Sri Lanka’s three-pronged spin attack of Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Sandakan that ran circles around the South African batsmen to condemn them to defeat inside three days. – AFP

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