Sri Lanka’s young trio of specialist spinners has taken seven wickets among them and firmly put the team in a strong position in the opening Test against West Indies. But spin-bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge was somewhat disappointed with their performance. The 50-year-old former spinner felt that they could have done much better.
Offspinner Ramesh Mendis, and left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama, took three wickets each, and Lasith Embuldeniya (25) claimed one, to help reduce West Indies to a poor score of 224 for 9 before rain washed out most of the play of Day three.
On a pitch that provided help to the bowlers, especially the spinners, Wijetunge opined that the trio was “too eager” to pick quick wickets rather than forming a pattern and trapping the batsman in it.
They need to keep building on their consistency – Wijetunge
“I’m not 100% happy – we could have done much better. We have been missing lines and lengths very frequently,” Wijetunge said of the performance. “We’ve got three young spinners, and on this pitch, which turns a lot, I think we were trying too hard to get wickets. We need to have patience, because the pitch does help us.
“Instead of bowling the ball in one spot and waiting for the pitch to do the work, we went hunting for wickets. We tried too many things. But of these three spinners, Lasith Embuldeniya has played 12  Tests, Praveen Jayawickrama has played two [one], and Ramesh Mendis three [two]. They need to keep building on their consistency.”
These three together definitely will be future Matchwinners – Wijetunge
“Lasith Embuldeniya is a conventional type left-arm spinner, and of the three who are playing this game, he’s the most consistent in terms of his skill.
“Praveen took 11 wickets on debut, and on this Galle pitch we would anyway consider him. He’s got natural variation, with the seam angles he uses. The ball straightens and when it hits the seam, it spins more than [it does] for the others. When they have exposure and experience, they are definitely going to be matchwinners.”
Wijetunge on the obstacles due to Covid-19 Protocols
“The one that comes in [to the right-hander] is definitely one that we have to work on with Embuldeniya. But with Covid-19 and the protocols around it, it has been difficult to work in new skills. We get bubbled a maximum of two weeks before the series, and the only thing we can do as coaches then is to get the players game-ready.
“Before this, we had off-season training at the high performance centre, where we could have developed variations, or worked on consistency. But we haven’t had that chance, and there are only five or six skill-training sessions per series.”
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