Touring with one specialist wicketkeeper has become a norm, with most teams opting to make space for an additional batsman or bowler. But the Sri Lanka Test squad is different.
The visitors have brought two specialist wicketkeepers- Prasanna Jayawardene and Kaushal Silva - despite having skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who has been their first choice since 2002.
Sangakkara has been the main stay of the batting along with Mahela Jayawardene for some time and the think tank feels burdening him with wicket-keeping responsibilities affects his batting.
“It has been (a conscious decision) for some time. If you look at Sangakkara's record as wicketkeeper-batsman and as a batsman, there is a huge of difference,” said team manager Brendon Kuruppu.
Sangakkara averages a whopping 76.20 when he is not the designated wicketkeeper. However, when he stands behind the wickets, the average falls to 40.48.
Sangakkara’s last Test as wicketkeeper-batsman was against the West Indies in April 2008. Even when Prasanna Jayawardene was injured during the first Test against Pakistan in July this year, the management entrusted the job to Tillakaratne Dilshan.
However, Dilshan got injured in the first innings of the third Test and Sangakkara had to take over the responsibility.
“He is one of the best batsmen in the world and we need him to score runs,” said Kuruppu. The skipper is aware of the responsibility as he aims to become the first Lankan to win a Test in India.
Sangakkara has been spending hours at the Mumbai Cricket Association's indoor nets since no play was possible in the warm-up game against the Board President's XI.
The team had an outdoor session on Friday after umpires called off the match due to wet patches on the side pitches. and the thin gathering of policemen and reporters were treated to some fine strokeplay from the left-hander.
Asked about his target, the 32-year-old said it was to score big runs to help his team win the series. “My targets are the same wherever I play. I want to score runs and I want to score hundreds. And I want to score 10,000 Test runs and get 30 hundreds. I am working towards all of those every single time I play.
“Of course, personal ambition is supported by what the side wants. It is same for every batsman,” he said.