Sri Lanka much better team now, says coach

KOLKATA: Sri Lanka head coach Nic Pothas says the debacle against India taught them a few lessons and they will not be awestruck by the fancied hosts since they are a much better team now, united by a culture and discipline.

India whitewashed Sri Lanka in all formats — three Tests, five ODIs and one T20I — when they toured the Island nation in July-September this year.

“Thanks for reminding us now [the defeats]. It’s always a pleasure to come here [India] and challenge ourselves against a very very good team,” Pothas, a South African, said.

After their forgettable India tour, Sri Lanka showed character to bounce back and beat Pakistan 2-0 in the UAE in the Test series.

Asked what changed in such a short span of two months, Pothas said: “It’s internal — the discipline, the culture and how the teams stick together. When we took on India, we were all pretty new from the support staff and the players involved.”

Stressing the need to focus on their strengths, Pothas urged his players not to get enamoured by India.

“We focus on ourselves. The mistake you can make here is come and be infatuated with the Indian side and concentrating too much on them. We know they are a good side. But we played them months ago,” he said.

“We are concentrating on our strengths and jobs. If we execute them well, it will be a challenging series. Not many teams have come here and won. Sometimes you can get hung up on weaknesses. We go the other way and focus on what we do well.”

Sri Lanka managed to humble Pakistan in the UAE Tests and the coach said the conditions coupled with veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s absence made their job easier.

“It was a completely different series against Pakistan. We were there in 41 degrees heat and they had lost two legends. That probably made a little bit easier for us,” said Pothas.

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