New Delhi: Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal has been on a steady rise since making his debut for the Islanders and the right-arm pacer will once again look to trouble the hosts as his team lock horns against India in the second Test at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur, starting Friday.
Lakmal ended the Kolkata Test with figures of 7/119 at the Eden Gardens, which are the best bowling figures by a Sri Lanka pacer in the last two years.
Lakmal's show in the first Test wasn't a one-off display as since January 2016, he has been Sri Lanka's most potent pace bowler — taking 41 Test wickets at an average of 34.6 and a strike rate of 68.3. The next two best pacers in the list are Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Kumara, neither of whom are currently playing.
Furthermore, Lakmal is just five Test wickets away from scalping 100 wickets in the longest format of the game and a look at the most prolific Sri Lanka pace bowlers shows just how big a feat this is -
Ahead of the Nagpur Test, India opener KL Rahul revealed that the wicket will aid the pacers as Team India look to prepare for the overseas tours in 2018.
"It is very clear that we are preparing for the next two years that we are going to travel abroad. We will play lot of cricket overseas and find wickets like this and it is going to be challenging for all of us. So we wanted to prepare in that way," Rahul said.
Under such circumstances, both teams would want to bat first and Lakmal could well be a big factor, given his record in Tests while bowling first.
Lakmal's breath-taking performance on the first day of the Kolkata Test had everyone stand up and take notice of the pacer. Lakmal bowled six overs and picked up 3 wickets without conceding a single run. This was only the second instance in Test cricket that a bowler had picked up three or more wickets in a Test innings without conceding a run.