“It really pains me that we could not give him a good farewell, but I promised him that we will play the next game well and try to win the series for him,” the Sri Lankan captain said.
Sri Lanka are expected to replace the 134-Test veteran with another left-hander, Upul Tharanga, who has scored 1,113 runs in 20 Tests at an average of 31.80.
India, meanwhile, are likely to play top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, for the first time in the series, as opening partner for Lokesh Rahul in the absence of Dhawan and Vijay.
Uncapped 32-year-old Naman Ojha, a wicketkeeper-batsman who reinforced the injury-hit touring squad on Monday along with young batsman Karun Nair, could come in for Saha.
“Pujara is pretty solid with the new ball,” said Kohli. “He has done the job in the past and we are very confident he will do the job in the next game as well.”
India will once again bank on their spin twins, Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra, who shared 14 of the 20 wickets in the second Test to fashion the team’s emphatic win.
Mathews conceded Sri Lankan batsmen needed to find a way to tackle off-spinner Ashwin, who followed his 10-wicket haul in the first Test with seven scalps at the P. Sara Oval.
“We have a lot of left-handers in our line-up and it makes it easier for Ashwin to be aggressive against them,” Mathews said of Ashwin, who dismissed Sangakkara in all four innings in the series.
“We need to find a way to counter-attack him. We can’t just hang around. He will bowl the odd good ball anyway in an over, so we need to score runs.”