Sri Lanka spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge believes that Sri Lanka’s three front-line young spinners have a great future at Test cricket. Two leg spinners Lasith Embuldeniya, Praveen Jayawickrama, and off-spinner Ramesh Mendis are still new bowlers to Test cricket but their performance has already given them a big boost to go forward added Wijetunge after Sri Lanka’s 187 run victory over West Indies in the first Test at Galle.
West Indies lost 19 of their 20 wickets against the Sri Lankan spinners and Embuldeniya took his fourth five-wicket haul in his 12th test while 26-year-old Ramesh Mendis took his best figures of 4 for 64 in his third test and this was his second four-wicket haul. Jayawickrama who played his second test ended with 4 for 40 in the first innings also entered the record books the 23-year-old Jayawickrama became the first left-arm spinner to take 4 + wickets in each of his first three innings of his Test career.
He took 6/92 and 5/86 against Bangladesh on his debut test at Pallekele followed by this first West Indies test 4/40. The only other left-arm spinner with 4+ wickets in his first two innings was Pakistan’s Abdur Rehman in 2007.
Three spinners are in good form and considering their age they can do a lot more as spinners added Wijetunge who served as a National spin coach from 2008 to 2019 and then once again he is back in the same post from last June. Embuldeniya the 25-year leggie was out for six month period due to his injury but he came back strongly especially in the second innings. We’ve got three young spinners, and on this Galle pitch which turns a lot and we had a plan to go with three main spinners. Especially going back to West Indies batters records they are weak against leg spinners and that’s why we decided to pick two specialized leg spinners and it worked in Sri Lanka’s favor.
Sri Lanka used to play two frontline left-arm spinners for the first time since the retirement of Rangana Herath and he had occasionally played alongside Malinda Pushpakumara at SSC late in his career).
Wijetunge outlined Embuldeniya and Jayawickrama’s contrasting strengths.
“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 at Pallekele against Bangladesh, and on this Galle pitch, we would have anyway considered 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 going to be match-winners.” This is going to be good news as earlier we had a champion match-winning spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath.
The spinners need to have patience because the Galle pitch does help us. Especially spinners should bowl to make pressure against batters. West Indies’ low-order batters did well but we knew we had enough overs to get their wickets. The bowlers have to bowl line and length very frequently. The Galle pitch offered substantial assistance and bowlers have to realize all these conditions. but I think three young bowlers can learn more with match practice. “Before this, we had off-season training at the high-performance centre, where we worked on consistency. But we haven’t had that chance recently, and there are only five or six skill-training sessions per series.”
We hope we can do more training after back to the normal situation. I am very confident we can go a long way with these young spinners. But most important is to make backup spinners if any case of main spinners injury. We are lucky to have good spinners also in short format and Wanindu Hasaranga is exceptional while young mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana also performed well especially he had a good record during a power play. All these spinners have potential and most important is to protect them by giving good guidance said Piyal Wijetunge.