If batsmen do their job getting to 462 is not impossible - Wijetunge | Daily News
Pushpakumara in line to replace Herath in Pallekele Test

If batsmen do their job getting to 462 is not impossible - Wijetunge

GALLE, Thursday: With Rangana Herath on the verge of quitting from international cricket at the end of the first cricket Test against England at Galle, Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge said that left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara has been line up to take his place in the second Test starting in Pallekele on November 14.

“Dilruwan Perera is going to take the lead from Herath. We have Akila Dananjaya, and we have brought in Malinda Pushpakumara. From the next game onwards we might go with Malinda Pushpakumara. We’ll get to Kandy and look at the wicket first. We’ll play Malinda in place of Rangana,” said Wijetunge at the end of the third day.

“Having played 20 years for Sri Lanka, it’s really tough to replace someone like Rangana. He’s done a tremendous job for Sri Lanka cricket. Pushpakumara is just starting, and hopefully he will come good.”

Assessing the pitch Wijetunge said it still played well and he could see no reason why the Lankan batsmen cannot bat on it.

“When you look at the three days so far, I’m not sure there will be a huge change over the next two. We know that it does spin a little more on the last two days because it is dry here. There is a big challenge, but it’s not the kind of wicket we usually see in Galle. If the batsmen do their duty, the 440-odd that we need will be tough, but it’s not impossible,” said Wijetunge.

“The pitch playing well and that is one of the reasons we couldn’t get wickets. Credit to the English batsmen they handled the spinners well. Akila (Dananjaya) had one of his off days, and he didn’t bowl that well. I’m sure he’s going to come back in the next game. Credit should go to the English batsmen. They handled situations well.

“What we are used to here is to come and take a lot of wickets, so that was the mindset. But what we saw from the England spinners is that they bowled to one pattern right through. They let the batsmen make the mistakes. In this match that worked for them.

“But what we are used to in Sri Lanka, is to get wickets, because the conditions support us. In looking for those wickets, rather than doing a holding job, maybe there were errors. We didn’t move from that attacking mindset,” he said.

Wijetunge said that the Lankan batsmen should try to emulate the way England opener Keaton Jennings built up his innings of 146 not out in over six hours batting.

“The way he batted, the way he built his innings, is a good example for our batsmen as well. He had patience and he never played a rash stroke,” said Wijetunge.

“In a short space of time, you can’t make huge changes. Between the first and second innings you, can’t change much. We talked to the batsmen and told them to just bat for long innings without thinking too much about the runs. Because the pitch isn’t taking that much turn, we asked them to bat long.”

Sri Lanka who were set 462 runs for victory require a further 447 runs over the next two days with all ten second wickets in hand.


Jennings said that he was extremely happy to score a hundred and hoped that it would help England win.

“I suppose in any game where you put in a performance that enables your side to get into a match winning position is really awesome. And hopefully we can go on and win this Test over the next two days,” said Jennings.

Describing the feeling after completing his century Jennings said, “I wouldn’t say sweeter but the relief is something I can’t really explain. Over the last 18-monhts I’ve faced some things in my cricketing life I’ve had to learn from. I’ve had to develop myself. It’s just really pleasing and a big thank you to the people who have stuck with me over the last 18-months and backed me through some tough times.”

Jennings first Test hundred was against India at Mumbai in 2016 and it has taken him almost two years to score another.

“I'm just really proud to be sitting here today having put us in a position to hopefully win. It is just a starting point and you have to make sure you do it over and over again. Look at someone like Cooky (Alastair Cook) who got 33 hundreds and played 161 Test matches and there were still doubts about his place at times. I've got to make sure I put it in its context, come out again tomorrow and continue to try and get better,” Jennings said.


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