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Sri Lanka did not play with attacking intent against strong Indian squad

Test series also showed the true value of genuine all-rounder

Gulf News

The third Test followed an all-too-familiar pattern for the Sri Lankans: huge Indian run fest, top order collapse, large defeat. The 0-3 defeat on home soil has left many in Sri Lanka despondent and upset.

We need to be careful, though, and give the team support. The players are trying their best. The truth is that India arrived as the No. 1 Test team in the world and they played like it. They were extremely impressive in all departments.

Should Sri Lanka have lost 0-3? Probably not. The wide margins of the defeats is disappointing. I think in hindsight it is fair to say that there were some tactical mistakes. We also did not play with the necessary attacking intent and passion required when taking on such strong opponents.

It was encouraging that Sri Lanka did try to innovate in the third Test in a bid to take 20 wickets. Their 6-5 balance was a positive move, although also a high-risk move given our weak lower middle order.

The plan might have worked also as wickets tumbled in the second half of the first day. The extra bowling options gave Dinesh (Chandimal) more variety. Unfortunately, though, with the game in the balance, Hardik Pandya produced a breathtaking innings.

I think Hardik is a terrific young cricketer and, although it’s early days given he is just 23, he could be a huge all-round asset for India in all formats. The value of a genuine all-rounder is immense, as you see with the impact Ben Stokes has for England, so India will be hoping his development continues.

In the third Test he showed he has a good head, first guiding India towards a safe total and then exploding when batting with the tail. He showed temperament and what a strong clean-hitter he can be when in full song.

The question now for him is how he harnesses his talent and evolves as an all-rounder. The raw ingredients, including skill levels and character, are there. He now needs to be really mature and keep getting better and better every day.

After India reached 487 we were going to be under pressure given the feisty Kandy pitch. A disappointing collapse soon followed and our mental vulnerability was obvious when Virat (Kohli) opted for the follow on.

The challenge for Sri Lanka is now to regroup. The ODI series starting this weekend is a fresh challenge. Our ODI form has been reasonable over recent months and we beat India in the Champions Trophy.

That should give the guys some confidence. But what we need to be clear about is that winning against India will not be possible unless we play the aggressive, free-flowing cricket that helped us win in England.

We have to forget the Test series and go into attack mode. That will not be easy for all the players as I know they will be hurting after the Test series, but with help from the senior players and management team they have to get their mindset right.