Galle - Skipper Dinesh Chandimal on Monday said
Sri Lanka's spinners are ready to fire in the first Test against England in
Galle as the hosts eye a winning farewell for the retiring Rangana Herath.
Sri Lanka, who went down to the tourists 3-1 in the five
one-day internationals and also lost a one-off Twenty20 match, are looking for
redemption in the three-Test series starting on Tuesday.
Spinners Dilruwan Perera and Akila Dananjaya are expected to
partner Herath in his final international outing on a turning Galle track that
has seen rain in the lead up to the match.
"When you look at the Galle pitch, it's always turning
and helpful to spinners," Chandimal told reporters.
"When we play in Sri Lanka, it's spinners who take
charge. Then again, it's all about weather and the condition of the
But England are also ready with their battery of spinners
led by Moeen Ali. Jack Leach, Joe Denly and Adil Rashid will also be fighting
for a place in the starting line-up.
Skipper Joe Root also admitted on Monday that spin would
"play a huge part" but said the was ready for anything.
"We've just got to adapt very well, very quickly and
read the situation.
"We've got a very balanced squad with plenty of
different options... From that point of view I feel we'll be very well prepared
for whatever surface is thrown at us."
The match will also be England's first Test since stalwart
Alastair Cook hung up his bat in September following the home side's 4-1
drubbing of India.
"It will be my first Test match without playing with
Alastair. It's a big loss in terms of experience and everything he brings to
the squad and the team," said Root.
"Of course we miss him. But it's a great opportunity
for someone else to make that spot their own, stand up and do something special
Keaton Jennings is expected to open alongside Rory Burns,
who is set for his Test debut as Cook's replacement.
But the spotlight in Galle remains on the departing Herath,
the most successful left-arm spinner in history, as he seeks a fairytale
Herath made his debut at Galle in 1999, got a hat-trick
there in 2016 and is one scalp away from a century of wickets at the
Only two other bowlers have achieved this feat - compatriot
Muttiah Muralitharan at Galle, Kandy and SSC Colombo, and England paceman James
Anderson at Lord's.
The 40-year-old Herath has taken 430 wickets in 92 Tests and
is among the top 10 wicket-takers in five-day history.
"We have few things under the sleeve (for Herath). We
don't want to reveal all because we want him to be surprised," said
"The main thing is, if we can win this game and the
series, that will be a really good farewell for him. That's what the team is
looking forward to," he said.
Root said his team also wants to do something for Herath as
he hailed his "phenomenal longevity" in a career spanning 19 years.
But Root warned his players against getting affected by the
"I'm very aware of how skillful he is and how he'll try
and get us out," said Root.
"Of course there'll be a lot of noise around him and it
being his last game.
"But we've got to play 11 Sri Lankan players who could
all equally affect the game and that respect has to be there for the whole