Sri Lanka vs India 2017: Toughest Series of my Career so Far – Dinesh Chandimal
Hosts Sri Lanka suffered their 1st series whitewash at home since 2003-04, as India inflicted a crushing victory by an innings and 171 runs in the 3rd and the final Test at Pallekele to clinch the series by a 3-0 margin.
The Indian players thoroughly outplayed their Sri Lankan counterparts in all three departments of the game and barring a couple of centuries by Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne in the 2nd Test, the Lankan batting display has been horrific, to say the least.
The Indian batsmen were simply sensational in all three matches of the series. Dhawan made a strong comeback to the Test by smashing a couple of hundreds in the series. All-rounder Hardik Pandya who made his debut in the opening Test also had a memorable series, as he went on to smash his maiden Test century and also the first of his first-class career too.
It was a series to forget for Sri Lanka and their captain Dinesh Chandimal who conceded the fact that they were thoroughly outplayed in all departments of the game. They lost the final Test within three days and it was surprising, given the fact the pitch was a batting paradise and it was the one where both Shikhar Dhawan and Pandya smashed the bowlers all around the park.
Chandimal gave India a lot of credit and stressed the importance of consistency to improve as a unit. Here are the excerpts from the press conference
On the Defeat Inside Three Days
“It’s pretty tough for me and the team. Credit goes to India. They have played outstandingly well in the series. I am disappointed that if we could have dragged the game to the fifth day we could have learnt something, but losing within two and half days you cannot give any excuses.”
On Batting Failures
“During training too we are doing the lot of hard work. We had some game plan and we spoke so many things during the game. As a player when you have to go to the middle you have to put them to practice. That was what the batters were unable to do. As players, we had to stand up and do our performances well.”
You beat Australia last year 3-0 but this year it’s a reverse. What has gone wrong?
“I would say the main concern is injuries. The Australia series we had everyone fit. No injuries whatsoever. Everyone chipped in. This series, there are so many injuries starting from Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath and then Asela Gunaratne. They played some really good cricket in the last six months. That’s the main issue. I don’t want to give excuses. We have to perform better than this.”
On failure of Seniors the Whole Series and Consistency
“Consistency has been a huge issue this series. As I said, some players cannot perform well in every series. As seniors, you have to do well. Then the youngsters will follow. I have a lot of faith. The seniors I hope will come back strongly when we take on Pakistan.”
Hardik Pandya and Shami’s spell – The two turning points
“Hardik batted brilliantly when he came out to the middle. The first spell by Shami and Umesh was brilliant. At one point we thought as if we were playing in England. They bowled so well making most of the conditions.”
Despite batting at number four you are exposed early. Thoughts on openers?
“That is a problem that we have. As an opener, you should at least bat for 15 to 20 overs. As I said, we have some game plan to each and every player. They have to execute them when in the middle. We failed to do that in the series and that cost us dearly I would say.”
When the team lose people blame batsmen and bowlers, but should any blame be taken by selectors?
“I am happy with the team I received. Both Tests in Galle and Colombo, India scored 600 plus runs, so we wanted to use an additional bowler due to the fact that we didn’t have three of our senior players. That is the cover that we opted for. We wanted to restrict India to 450 runs in the first innings and bounce back with the bat. It was a collective decision people can blame various things but we have to take collective responsibility.”
On using Pushpakumara late in the innings
“The other way you can look at is that people asked why we didn’t use seamers when Hardik Pandya was on a rampage. When bowlers are tired no point on giving the ball to them. You have to handle those situations. The fast bowlers had bowled few overs at that stage and it was a gamble that I didn’t want to take. These things go either way. At that moment the decision that we took went wrong.”
Who is taking responsibility for such a heavy defeat?
“As captain, I would like to take the responsibility. The fans have always supported us. They encourage us always. Today we saw despite losing, people applauding us. That is what the team needs now. We cannot let the players be mentally down. We are doing the process right. We might not get results soon, but we are confident that the future looks good.”
Do you apologise to the fans?
“You cannot predict the outcome of the game. Are you asking whether I am apologizing for the fans? Yes, I am apologizing. To all Sri Lankan fans here and away from home. I apologize for this performance.”
There have been 3-0 defeats before. Is this the worst?
“I would say yes. Toughest series no doubt in my career. The reason being that we were not able to take the games to five days. There have been four day Tests and three day Tests. Worst series ever.”
Lakshan Sandakan took some wickets. Will he be used extensively?
“Definitely. All teams are having the luxury of wrist spinners. He could go for runs, but the chances of him getting a wicket is more. We have Sandakan and we have Vandersay and both are in our equations.”
Captaincy is nothing unusual for you. How tough do you feel now?
“We have to be positive. I am not letting the team down at a tough time. We have to do a few things differently and rectify. We have to put them right slowly. I am very confident as captain that my players will be able to come back for good performances and get Sri Lankan cricket back in a winning way. I can see everyone trying hard. Everyone very enthusiastic. I am hopeful the future will be good for us.”
Vaas called for pitches suiting fast bowlers.
“There are two sides to it. We cannot make wickets suited for fast bowlers or spinners. We have to strike a balance. That is a good thing. No point in giving wickets with grass for domestic games. We have to play five games on wickets with grass and five games on wickets which help spinners if we have ten games. We will be able to go a long distance if we could do that.”
Angelo and you are not among runs. Reasons?
“Very disappointing. We could not get the runs. We take the blame. But we tried hard. We worked hard at training. We tried hard. Bad luck was that all seniors failed. I hope that everyone will fire in the next series hopefully.”
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