Kumar Sangakkara © Getty Images
Kumar Sangakkara retired from international cricket during the Test series against India in August this year © Getty Images

The Sri Lankan team are gearing up for the upcoming three-match Test series against the West Indies, aptly branded as the Sobers-Tissera Trophy after a meeting between the two boards. Both teams have not had the best of run in this year so far, and thus would like that to change in the upcoming events. Hosts Sri Lanka currently look stronger on paper, thanks to the depth in their batting lineup as well as the presence of spinners such as Rangana Herath. There is a challenge involved for the Lankans however, as their batsmen are now without the presence of stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Amit Banerjee feels that the young Sri Lankan batsmen will be tested in the upcoming series in the absence of the veterans.

Since their rise to the top of world cricket following their emphatic triumph in the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lanka have remained one of the fiercest teams to compete against, especially on home soil. They added several revolutionary changes to the sport, especially the opening batsman’s attacking approach in the first 15 overs in One-Day Internationals (ODI). A principle reason for them maintaining themselves as the competitive side that they are known to be is their depth in their batting order, with the likes of Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara leaving behind their indelible footprints for youngsters to follow. Kumar Sangakkara: The Master and his legacy

For the last half-a-decade or so, the pair of Jayawardene and Sangakkara had become the driving force of the Sri Lankan team across formats. While Jayawardene became an unstoppable force on home conditions, especially on his favourite track of the Sinhalese Sporting Club (SSC), Sangakkara collected runs in massive stacks in various conditions across the world. It would be natural to expect the pair, who currently hold the world record for the highest partnership in Test cricket (624), to leave a massive void in the team after their departures from the sport, which happened earlier this year.

The current Sri Lankan squad undoubtedly has many talented batsmen in their side, especially in the form of Kaushal Silva, Kushal Perera (whose batting style bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Jayasuriya), Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, etc. Skipper Angelo Mathews has been a revelation both as a middle-order batsman as well as a medium-pacer. Chandimal helped turn the game around with a brilliant 162 in the Galle Test against India in August this year, and thus will be another key figure in the middle-order. What remains to be seen however, is how they function in the absence of the veteran pair of Jaya and Sanga. READ: Sri Lanka likely XI for 1st Test vs West Indies at Galle

While it is easy to assume beforehand that the Lankans are going to have it easy against the West Indians, who don’t have any experienced spinners in their side for the turning pitches, the youngsters in the side will have to go through some mental battles ahead of the match. It happens to any team that is going through a transition period, which the Steven Smith-led Australia will also face when they lock horns against New Zealand in the upcoming Test series. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Mathews has an important role to play in taking up the role as the senior among the batsmen (with Rangana Herath performing a similar role in the bowling unit), and helping them breeze through the turbulence that is to arrive.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)