Looking to pull something special out of the bag in the must-win game to stay alive in the series, Sri Lankan spin coach Roger Wijesuriya on Saturday admitted that the Indian tour has been very tough for the Islanders.
"It's 2-0 at the moment. This is a very tough tour for us. We have learnt lessons from these two matches. The boys are ready to take another step. It is a challenge, especially for the youngsters. These are opportunities for them to fulfil, and show what they can do," said Wijesuriya on the eve of the third One-day International at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal here.
At the receiving end of some ruthless Indian batting post centuries from Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu, the Sri Lankan bowling has been put through a tough test. Spinners Suraj Randiv and Seekkugge Prasanna have picked up three wickets each in the first and second game respectively but bled too many runs to be effective.
The spin coach, who represented Lanka in four Tests and eight one-dayers during 1982-85, chose to defend his boys.
"Suraj actually, has come to the senior game after a long time. He's been playing in Sri Lanka and coming to a place like this, getting used to the pitches here, it takes time sometimes. But you have to quickly get on with the game and learn things. But going through with him, he is getting more and more confidence. He had a poor start, but he has recovered. But it is a challenge for him," said Wijesuriya, a former left-arm orthodox and right-hand batsman.
Being asked about the short notice of the tour after the West Indies team pull-out having a bearing on the team's performance, Wijesuriya said that these are the demands of modern-day cricket and we should not hide under excuses.
"Nothing like that. Before this tour, we had time for the England tour, and the boys got on with the physical side more. We were concentrating on that. At the same time, the West Indies A team was coming, and we wanted to give the others the chance. So it was a bit of a mix when we got this. But in this level of cricket, you have to be ready any given time to start playing," he said.
With Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera having represented Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL, the venue automatically becomes their homeground but Wijesuriya insists that it is a team game and not one player will be required to step up in performance.
"For each game, it's a new game. We are not putting pressure on one person to deliver. But the day, whoever gets in, he has to make a big score. And maybe bowling, same time," he said.
Lanka crashed out for 194 in a 364-run chase in Cuttack and could only muster 274 on a good wicket at Motera. Wijesuriya admitted that apart from building partnerships, the youngsters will have to rise to the challenge.
"When it comes to batting, it's all about partnerships. So the seniors must be looking after the youngsters. But at the same time, the youngsters also pull their game up and play with the senior players, and those partnerships make the difference."
On the question of quality spinners lacking in the Lankan ranks after the void left by Muttiah Muralitharan, Wijesuriya said that it's not about a particular department but the team build-up that is on the agenda before the 2015 World Cup.
"At the moment, after Muttiah finished his career, Rangana Herath took over, and Ajantha Mendis - they were the senior players. But at the same time, because we are concentrating on the A tours and giving opportunity to the others - that's the way we have to go at the moment. But at the moment it's not only on the spin, it's also on the pace side also, we have a mix. So our bench is not weak," he opined.