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Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne eager to improve his Test batting record

Thirimanne acknowledges that he has to improve his Test batting average and strike rate and states that the Sri Lankan batsman should look at counter-attacking Ravichandran Ashwin to nullify the off spinner's threat.

Lahiru Thirimanne Sri Lanka cricket
Thirimanne acknowledges that he has to improve on his Test batting average and strike rate

Sri Lankan batsman Lahiru Thirimanne is eager to make his mark in Test cricket and replicate the form he has shown off late in ODI’s, ESPNCricinfo reports. He acknowledged that he will have added responsibility following the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara but is confident that he can become a regular fixture in the Test team. 

Thirimanne has begun to deliver on his potential in the ODIs after a slow start and became the youngest Sri Lankan to score a century in the World Cup in March this year. He has scored three other centuries in the shorter format, including two in the 2014 Asia Cup, but life in Test cricket has been a struggle for the 26-year-old with an average of just over 26.   

He has had a decent run in the Test series so far with an important knock of 44 in the Galle Test which the hosts won and a 62 at the P Sara Oval in the second Test. Thirimanne acknowledges however that he has to start getting the runs in Test cricket on a consistent basis if he has to better his batting numbers.

"If you look at the ODIs, I was always in the runs," Thirimanne said. "In Tests, the shots I played weren't executed all that well. There was an element of bad luck as well - sometimes the shots went directly to hand. Mentally I never had an issue. I was always ready for the matches I played. But then when you spend a little bit of time at the crease it gets easier. Once you score 20 or 30 runs, you start playing those shots well."

Apart from the mediocre average, Thirimanne’s strike rate is just 40 in Test cricket. His ODI numbers aren’t much better with a strike rate of around 72, and the Sri Lankan batsman accepts that it is something he should definitely try to improve.  

"When I go to bat, usually there's a bit of pressure on the team. There are two options - to hit out quickly and try to get some runs with the batsman on the other end, or to stay at the wicket for a while and work through it. I did take the second option quite often. But then sometimes you think that it would have been good to follow a middle path - to score runs without taking too many risks. My low strike rate has often had to do with the situation."

Thirimanne has batted at the No 3, 4, 6 and 7 spots in his four innings so far in the series and has not played at a particular spot on more than 13 occasions in his 42 Test innings so far. However, he refuses to make an excuse that the frequent shifts in his batting position has affected his performance. 

"You have to bat well wherever you get the opportunity, so there's no real excuse," Thirimanne said.  "That's something I've learned since making my debut. You have to play anywhere at this level. That said, I do have good one-day form in the top three, and I hope I can replicate that in Tests."

The middle-order batsman has been dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin three times out of his four innings and states that the Sri Lankan batsman should look at counter attacking the off spinner if they are to do well against him.

"Even though Ashwin doesn't have a doosra or too many other variations, he troubles batsmen with those changes of speed," Thirimanne said. "He doesn't give many loose balls at all. It's a big challenge for a left-hander. A right-hander would have two or three options. We'll talk as a team and work hard in training. We'll try to counterattack him and win through. It's important to go in with a clear mind and a clear plan."

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