Tharindu Kaushal was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka at Galle © AFP
Tharindu Kaushal was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka at Galle © AFP

Tharindu Kaushal was a different bowler once he came into bowl in after lunch on Day Two of the first Test against India. He was going close to six runs an over before the lunch break, but his five wickets post lunch helped pull things back in Sri Lanka’s favour. With Rangana Herath going wicketless in the innings, there was an extra pressure on the young off-spinner and he managed to deliver, restricting India’s lead to less than 200. Pramod Ananth reckons Sri Lanka must persist with Kaushal for him to be a successful bowler in the longer run.

Since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan, Herath has carried the burden of spin bowling on his own. Herath stepped to the plate wonderfully and has delivered for his team on multiple occasions. But of late Herath has been off colour, and was resultantly dropped in the third Test against Pakistan after picking up just one wicket in the two Tests preceding it. READ: India reduce Sri Lanka to 5/2, lead by 187 on Day 2 of 1st Test at Galle

At Galle, Kaushal bowled extremely wayward line and length and also at a fast pace. He should have learnt from his Indian counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin, who gave the ball good flight and kept pecking away at the batsman outside off-stump at either good or full length. Kaushal bowled half-volleys and full tosses very often, and the Indian batsmen, especially Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli found it easy to score. He rectified it post lunch and that paid dividends for him and his team. READ: India bowled out for 375, lead Sri Lanka by 192 runs on Day 2 of 1st Test at Galle

One thought Sri Lanka were taking a gamble with a young spinner like Kaushal considering Dilruwan Perera was available for selection, but he turned out to be the star for them with Herath missing out. Perera has a very good record in his short Test carer so far, picking up 40 wickets in eight Tests. He is a handy batsman lower down the order, having secured a highest score of 95. But the only factor for his non-consideration might be has age. He is 33 and Sri Lanka perhaps feel that they need to back a young spinner. READ: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2015, 2nd Test at Colombo: Tharindu Kaushal’s five-for a smartly executed plan

With India well in control at the end of Day Two, Sri Lanka may not have much to defend in the fourth innings, if they are able to wipe out the deficit on Day Three. Sri Lanka can rest Herath and give Perera a chance to prove himself once again. Considering Herath started peaking in his mid-30s, it will not be a bad idea to drop him and have Kaushal bowl with Perera in the reminder of the series.

Kaushal is 22, and his career has just begun. Sri Lanka must cash in on this opportunity of having a spinner in their ranks, especially with Herath looking out of sorts in what looks like the twilight of his career. Kaushal has to keep up the good work from his end as well, and must not give room for his skipper or the selectors a chance to drop him from the team, especially when there is a stiff competition for that place.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)