After almost ten years it's good to be playing Test cricket in Sri Lanka. Over the years we have come here on many occasions to play one-day triseries and headed back home, but it has been a long time since we played Tests here and it’s a really nice feeling. At this time of the year in Sri Lanka the weather does pose a bit of a concern and there has been some rain around. What would be ideal is to have five clear days so we can get a rain-free, complete Test match and some good cricket.
I’m comfortable with the way our team has shaped up. The balance looks good and since most of us have played here we’re well aware of the kind of conditions to expect. Obviously, the heat and humidity mean that we have to prepare accordingly, especially when it comes to hydration. But we’re all experienced enough and preparations are already underway.
We had a good workout in the practice match, with all the bowlers putting in some good overs. When it comes to the batting you often can’t read too much into what happens in a practice match. I’m sure our batsmen will come good when it comes to the five-day game. It was important for the bowlers to hit their straps and this has happened. Zaheer Khan was coming back into international cricket after about seven months and I think he bowled exceptionally well.
When we last played Sri Lanka at home we won 2-0, winning in Delhi and Ahmedabad with the Chennai Test being washed out. The conditions here are similar in many ways and having won the last Test series we played against Sri Lanka the mood in the camp is upbeat. Over here it’s important to dominate Sri Lanka early on. We have to bat well in the first innings, put a big score on the board and put pressure on them. I know they have a good record at home, but we’re going into the Test looking at how to maximise our potential in terms of batting, bowling and fielding.
The referral system has also been talked about in detail over the last few days and I think it’s going to be a new thing for all involved — the players, the officials and those watching on TV in their homes.
It’s a first time for everyone and it will obviously be helpful for the umpires. We’re only looking at the positive things. It’s meant for the obvious errors that sometimes happen.
There are times when they may not pick up a certain edge and the ball hits pad and you are given out lbw. Those kind of referrals may matter and might change the course of the game as well. At the same time I don’t think it’s correct to say this will reduce the authority of on-field umpires. We need to change with the times as with everything else. The technology is there and we’re only using the technology that we feel confident with. The traditions of the game are important and we all respect that. But it’s also a fact that millions are watching on television. In tennis line decisions are accepted now. In cricket we have already accepted the third umpire ruling on run outs and stumpings. Umpires are an integral part of the system and this is not taking something away from them, it’s only a mode of assistance.