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POSTED AT 10:34 AM 10-10-2018

England’s got more experience, but we‘ve got more mystery – Chandimal

Sri Lankan ODI captain Dinesh Chandimal (2R) speaks with teammates during a practice session at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium on Monday. – AFP

DAMBULLA, Tuesday : The original rationale in building a cricket stadium in the dry zone Dambulla was that it provided Sri Lanka with the potential to host one-day matches throughout the year. But times have changed. Yesterday we saw both Sri Lanka and England cricketers being greeted with unrelenting rain at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium that deprived them of any practice ahead of today’s five-match ODI series lung-opener.

The prospect of the game getting off the ground today seems rosy with the forecast for cloudy weather.

Sri Lanka face a daunting task of trying to regain some of their composure as a competitive one-day side – a title which has eroded over time and pushed them to the bottom half rung of the one-day rankings at 8.

First round elimination from the Asia Cup was a bitter pill for the team to swallow and the individual who had to cop the blame for that disastrous showing was the captain Angelo Mathews who not only lost the captaincy but was also ousted from the team with fitness being cited as the core issue.

Mathews no doubt is the key batsmen in the one-day team especially with his experience and in the absence of the richly talented Kusal Mendis and aggressive opener Danushka Gunathilaka (injured) Sri Lanka will be hard pressed to put up a total good enough to challenge the no. 1 ranked ODI side.

This England team led by Eoin Morgan is no ordinary one-day side that can be brushed aside as in the past. Since their first round exit from the 2015 World Cup, they have built up a team (over the past three years) that is capable of performing in all types of conditions including the subcontinent that puts them streets ahead as favourites to win the ODI series.

HAPPY WITH ‘FAVOURITES’ TAG

Jos Buttler who’s developed into a dangerous one day cricketer said that he was very happy of England being tagged ‘favourites’ for the series.

“It shows we’ve been doing good stuff and I like being favourites. We’re very aware of Sri Lanka’s qualities in these conditions. They have some experienced players who’ve played well in these conditions.

It’s been tricky in the past for England sides to come here.

But we are full of confidence, We look forward to adapting our play and pushing the boundaries,” said a confident Buttler.

Having two quality spinners in their side in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, Buttler said has helped them to tackle spin successfully.

“Having those two guys in our team is great practice for us in the nets,” said Buttler. “They’ve been a big strength of the time and a huge part of the dressing room. Any time you put together a really good squad that means your practice is very good when you train.”

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal whilst paying a compliment to the two England spinners said, “Moeen and Rashid bowled really well in the practice game. We have a really good challenge from both of them. At the same time as a batsman if there is a mystery spinner you have to try to innovative shots to put the pressure back on him. England also has a really good challenge. We have some mystery spinners and when the situation comes we have some game plans which we will have to execute. England has got more experience but we have got more mystery.”

‘WE’RE IN SAME POSITION AS ENGLAND IN 2015’

Comparing his team to the one England had for the 2015 World Cup Chandimal said, “We all know that England is the no. 1 side in the world at the moment. They are playing really well and they’ve got some really good players. At the same time they’ve got lots of experience having played so much of international cricket around the world.

“When you go back to 2015 and look at their side they have struggled during the World Cup.

The same thing has happened to us at the moment. England managed to change everything after the 2015 World Cup that’s what we are looking at. If we can beat the no. 1 side in the world in this series that will be a great turning point going to the World Cup. That’s what we are looking at as a unit to compete with them in the middle.” One of the core issues that has affected the Lankan team has been their inability to control the slow over rate that has led to two of their captains Upul Tharanga and Chandimal paying the penalty by being fined and suspended by the ICC in the past.

Chandimal on who’s shoulders the responsibility falls during the series against England said, “The last 2-3 years we have struggled with the slow over rate.

The main reason is that between overs we have been slow not changing quickly. We’ve analysed that especially in the last couple of years where we have gone wrong and explained to the boys why we are getting slow over rates. They all know where we went wrong and I am sure for this tour they will do their best to avoid that.”

SA’ADI THAWFEEQ reporting from Dambulla

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