Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, who has emerged as Sri Lanka’s leading spinner in the ongoing second Test against England at Galle with a career best haul of 7 for 132, is of the view that chasing 200-plus would be a challenging total on the fifth day of the match.
“More than days one and two the wicket is turning now and if we can get the last England wicket early in the morning and get a 150-200 lead, we are definitely in the game,” said Embuldeniya at the end of the third day.
“The wicket is challenging because it is on the slow side and sometimes the batsmen try to go back and play shots. What I can control is my line and length and putting the ball in the right areas is the key for me. Changes of pace and using the crease has been beneficial for me in taking these wickets.
“I did a lot of spot bowling and gradually improved my game. In the match I continued to bowl one line and length and did small variations on a wicket that was giving us some help. I landed the ball in one area and expect the wicket to do the rest.
“On the first two days there wasn’t much help for the spinners and England’s fast bowlers bowled well but on the third day when we came onto bowl the wicket started assisting the spinners. Moving forward in the next two days I expect the wicket to assist spin a lot,” he said.
Embuldeniya bore the brunt of the Lankan bowling like he had in the first Test rolling his arm over for 41 overs for his seven wickets. “To bowl long spells and be successful you have to be relaxed in mind and the amount of effort you put at practice is what you achieve in the match. I do a lot of spot bowling in the nets and that is what has assisted me in taking wickets today.” Commenting on England captain Joe Root’s innings of 186, Embuldeniya said: “He is among the top five ranked batsmen in the world. He plays equally well off the front and back foot. Before coming to Sri Lanka I think he has done his homework well on the Lankan spinners.”
Embuldeniya is one wicket away from returning the best figures by a bowler in Test cricket at Galle. The current record is held by Muttiah Muralitharan who took 7/46 against England in 2003.
England wicket-keeper/batsman Jos Buttler who helped Joe Root in a partnership of 97 for the fifth wicket was all praise for his captain.
“It’s quite an amazing innings and it’s a backup of his double hundred in the first Test. Physically and mentally he showed the application to go and do it again against spin. It’s a master-class really. It’s been an education for all of us watching him from the side-lines and it was gutted for him to get out at the end of the day,” said Buttler. “He has spent so much time in the middle and it comes about physical endurance. On the eight days of cricket so far he has pretty much been on the field and in this game there is a lot more draining. It’s not just the technical and tactical aspects of this game but the physicality and concentration to apply himself for so long to back up the first Test is amazing. His drive and determination to take the team forward and play so well has been a pleasure to watch really.” (ST)