Colombo: India's fast-medium bowler Ishant Sharma has fired off a shot in the direction of Kumar Sangakkara ahead of the three-Test series starting in Galle on August 12, saying he "will go hard" at the retiring Sri Lankan batsman.
Ishant took 5-23 against the Board President's XI in the three-day practice game here today, as the hosts were bowled out for 121 runs in reply to India's 351.
"He is playing for his country and I am playing for my country. We played together only in the IPL and this is international match. So I will not think that he is playing his last game, I will go hard at him," said Ishant after the day's play.
Talking about his wicket-burst, the bowler added, "It was a pretty good spell. But more than wickets, if you get overs in your bag, that's more important in the practice game. That gives you confidence. Maybe tomorrow after lunch we can bowl for two sessions and get more overs in. Then we have two more days in the nets before the first Test. So we should be able to do enough before the Test."
On the day, Varun Aaron also took two wickets, as did R Ashwin while Harbhajan Singh got one. While the Indian skipper Virat Kohli will be looking to play three spinners in the Test series, as per his pre-series departure conference, the pitches laid out for the three matches will have a say in the matter.
"A major difference here from India is the ball. They also leave some grass on the wickets here so the ball is seaming and swinging a bit. As you can see we also lost three wickets quickly in the second innings and they also lost quite a few wickets. So, the new ball is important and after that how consistent you are with the old is going to make a huge difference," said Ishant.
Ishant said handling the old ball will be key in Sri Lankan conditions.
"Test cricket is about how you bowl in different situations especially with kookaburra ball because conditions are different from Australia, New Zealand, etc. It's not going to help much. Ball is going to swing for 12-14 overs so after that how you will bowl is really important when the ball is old. We have been talking about how to maintain the ball, how to bowl to batsmen when they are set," he added, talking about the responsibility of leading the attack.
Meanwhile, Lahiru Thirimanna, Kusal Perera, Kaushal Silva and Upul Tharanga, all dismissed by Ishant have been included in the Lankan squad announced for the Test series.
"I don't really think about all these things. They are good batsmen so that's why they are playing for their country.
I just keep hitting my lengths and keep doing it again.
Initially with Kookaburra ball it swings here and there was help for fast bowlers today. So I just stuck to basics. Even at this level it is important to stick to basics," Ishant signed off.