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Vaas hails good comeback by bowlers after poor start

Wisden India logo Wisden India 12-08-2017 Wisden India staff

Much of Chaminda Vaas’s interaction with the media on Saturday (August 12) evening revolved around the quality and depth of the Sri Lankan bowling, especially after the fast bowling coach for this India series pulled up Vishwa Fernando and Lahiru Kumara for their sub-par showing in the first session of day one of the final Test.

Kumara in particular doled out runs by the bucketful – 41 in six overs – as India motored to 134 without loss in just 27 overs to lunch. “I’m not happy with the way the fast bowlers bowled in the morning,” the former Sri Lankan left-arm swing exponent admitted. “They bowled here and there. I’m not giving excuses. These guys are inexperienced. Vishwa is playing his second game and Lahiru is bowling his sixth. They didn’t bowl well. But after lunch, they came back strongly and bowled pretty well.

“All the bowlers bowled pretty well, especially the spinners. We kept them to 320 on the first day. I’m really, really happy with the spinners. At the end, the way Vishwa bowled in the last two spells was also good.”

Sri Lanka bounced back from conceding an opening stand of 188 to restrict India to 329 for 6 at the close, with Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan, the spinners, sharing five wickets. “The track is really good for batting. We saw in the first few hours how the ball is behaving, and how the batters were scoring runs. This is a typical Kandy wicket. We were thinking of going for three seamers, but in the end everything changed. They wanted to go with three spinners. Whatever decision is taken by the management, we have to stick to it and do the right thing. We need to produce results in the middle.”

Even though Pushpakumara had just dismissed KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Chandimal took off the left-arm spinner and brought on the left-arm pace of Fernando. “We had a plan to bring a fast bowler when Kohli comes, and that’s been there since the first Test,” Vaas observed. “Especially when we decided to play with Vishwa, there was a little plan here also. He executed that plan well.”

Make pitches in first-class cricket suited to pacers, urges Vaas

“We can’t be satisfied with the way first-class cricket is. We need to make first-class cricket work for fast bowlers. We talk a lot about what ails first-class cricket, but no matter how much we talk, the issue hasn’t moved forward. If we want to develop our cricket and increase the number of fast bowlers we have – if we want to do justice to our cricket - we need to make pitches that are suited to fast bowlers. If we do that, I trust that our bowlers would be better off than they are now.”

Fernando improved as the day went on and picked up the wicket of R Ashwin late in the evening with the second new ball to finally find some reward for long toil. “The way he’s going, he has a bright future, he has potential. We need to look after him and take him forward.

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“We have good fast bowlers, but Sri Lanka Cricket needs to wait for some time. They need to give some time to these fast bowlers. They haven’t played much cricket. If you see the Indian fast bowlers, they have played about 60 games. We need to be patient and then we’ll be able to get the results from the fast bowlers.”

The general consensus in this part of the world is that Sri Lanka’s best pacers when they are fit are Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal. Vaas shot down questions regarding their incisiveness, saying, “We need to look at where they have played. Nuwan Pradeep last played (a full Test) in Galle. He took six wickets on that pitch. We need to look at what kinds of pitches he has played on and performed. If you look comparatively, if you play three fast bowlers, the wickets have to be divided among them. You can’t just burden one player with that. In the last six months, you can say that Nuwan Pradeep has bowled better than Suranga. Unfortunately he didn’t get wickets, but he bowled well from one side.

“For now, they are the two bowlers who have played a lot for us and have that experience. We have to look at the pitches they played on. Just because there is pace on the Johannesburg wicket, that doesn’t mean a fast bowler has to absolutely get wickets there. You also have to look at who is bowling from the other end. Fast bowling is something that is not restricted to one player. If you play three fast bowlers, they have to support each other and play like that. Maybe Pradeep didn’t get wickets, but you also have to look at how he bowled.”

Like Dimuth Karunaratne had during the second Test, Vaas spoke of the need to structure the first-class system better for bowlers like Fernando and Kumara to develop quickly. “They need to play more. If you take our first-class cricket, they don’t have enough first-class experience to play well. If you take quicks from any country, they start bowling well after they have played 20-25 Tests only. We can’t suddenly expect a lot from Vishwa and Lahiru Kumara. But it’s with their mindset that they can improve. They need to practice a lot and play a lot of games. With that match experience alone will they develop.

“We can’t be satisfied with the way first-class cricket is. We need to make first-class cricket work for fast bowlers. We talk a lot about what ails first-class cricket, but no matter how much we talk, the issue hasn’t moved forward. If we want to develop our cricket and increase the number of fast bowlers we have – if we want to do justice to our cricket - we need to make pitches that are suited to fast bowlers. If we do that, I trust that our bowlers would be better off than they are now.”

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