Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal today said he is hoping to avoid a 0-3 Test series whitewash against India with assistance from a lively pitch and a young fast bowling attack.
"Series is not yet over. As a captain, I don't like to lose. May be (whether) it's world's number one team or number eighth team, I want to win. We're giving out full effort to that but we cannot control the ultimate result," Chandimal said on the eve of the third and final Test here.
"Pressure is always there. We are 0-2 down now but still we are really good team. As a team we are hoping to win this game. If we can do that, definitely we can get more confidence and go forward. So we are looking forward to that."
Sri Lanka have brought in pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Gamage in place of injured Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep. The hosts are also expecting a lively wicket here, even though a lot of grass is shaved off the wicket.
"Of course, Herath is a really big loss. But we have to manage players. He is suffering from a really stiff back. So we gave him a rest in this game. Lahiru Gamage and Vishwa Fernando are bowling well these days," he said.
"As the two senior bowlers are not in contention, it's a good opportunity for them to put up their hands and make a contribution. I hope the two will grab the opportunity.
"Most of the time, we get seaming wickets here. So may be it suits fast bowlers. We haven't decided our team because of the weather. We will be deciding it tomorrow morning," Chandimal added.
The captain said it would be a "difficult task" against India but he would take it as a challenge.
"It's a difficult task but a real captain has to stay with the team at difficult moments. It's a big challenge for the whole team but if one or two youngsters can come out and shine to a level that we can win this game.
"It will be a great moral booster to the whole team as well. We must not forget that fact that we're up against the world's number one team. We're also waiting to pick that win."
Chandimal said although Sri Lanka were missing a lot of their key players, he would not like to use it as an excuse.
"India is a really good team, especially in the last two to three years. And we have had a lot of bad luck with injuries. Asela Gunaratnae in the first Test, and then Nuwan Pradeep, and now Herath. When that happens, the captain, manager and selectors cannot get the right combination especially if you lose players like them.
"They are really good players. We're struggling because of that also, but we don't want to give excuses. We have a really good team for this game and we're looking forward to win this," he said.
India will be missing the services of Ravindra Jadeja, who is serving his one-match suspension, and Chandimal said: "We all know Jadeja is the number one bowler at the moment. It gives us a bit of confidence. So it's bit of unfortunate for India. As a team, we have something up our sleeves."
Neither of the teams could practice on this pre-match day due to heavy morning rains. India had one heavy practice session on Wednesday, but Sri Lanka are going into the Test with only an indoor session on Thursday.
"We did practice yesterday at the indoor nets but certain batsmen are not all that happy batting at indoor nets. We were to practice in the morning (today) but it rained and we lost the opportunity. However, the trainers gave us some exercises and we did them.
"On the other hand, we thought it's good to come for tomorrow's game with a bit of a rest to the mind as well. I haven't had a look at the wicket because of the rain," said Chandimal.
After the innings defeat in Colombo, the young Sri Lankan team met with former cricketer Aravinda de Silva and received a pep talk.
"He is a legend and you know he is one of the greatest batsmen that Sri Lanka has ever produced. We had a chat with him three days ago. After that players look really confident. I hope players get that advice and they will continue their performance in this game. It's always about the confidence. Not to worry about the past and poor performances," he said.
"It was a very important meeting. All the players were there at the meeting and we discussed how we could take our game forward and lift the game. How we're going to win games. It's a good thing and all the players also contributed to that. Lot of positives came out.
"At the end of the meeting, all the players were in a bit of an upbeat mood and that looks really good. I thank Sri Lanka Cricket for having a meeting of that nature and bring a legend like Aravinda de Silva to motivate us," Chandimal added.
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