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ESPNcricinfo assesses the performances of the Sri Lanka players in their series loss in Australia
January 7, 2013
Continues to be Sri Lanka's best cricketer, and has been a pleasure to watch. Herath's figures do him little justice, as a number of straightforward chances went down off his bowling throughout the series, and he was the victim of some inconsistent umpiring as well. His over to dismiss Phil Hughes in the second innings in Sydney should be studied by aspiring spinners of all persuasions as a case study in outfoxing a batsman. He was often supported poorly by the other bowlers in the attack, but he gave his all in the field nonetheless.
Found some form in the second innings in Hobart and was sublime in Melbourne while those around him crashed and burned. He looked good for a big score on Boxing Day, but began running out of partners and was forced to seek quick runs. Became fastest equal to 10,000 runs alongside Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, and there can be little doubt now that he is a great of the modern game. Will likely finish his career with an average of 60.33 in Australia, which does justice to his exploits there.
His 147 in Hobart was Sri Lanka's best innings of the series, but despite that strong start, he was ineffective thereafter. His ungainly swipe across the line in the first innings at the MCG set the tone for Sri Lanka's collapse, and he could not prosper in Sydney either, despite having adopted a more measured approach. Provided a helpful offspin option for Sri Lanka, and was rarely wayward in that capacity.
86 runs at 86, 3 catches
Joyful as ever, but responsible too, in his only Test, having sat out of the XI for months. Chandimal showed his game had come along during the downtime, but that he hasn't lost his habit of taking his opportunities when they have come. His last-wicket stand with Nuwan Pradeep on the final day of the series affirmed his ability, and though he was not as sharp as Prasanna Jayawardene, he was tidy behind the stumps.
His 91 on the first day in Sydney was the backbone of Sri Lanka's innings, made all the more impressive by the fact that he'd walked off the plane from Sri Lanka only 36 hours prior. Visibly nervous to begin with, but firm in defence nonetheless, and possessed of a good technique to counter both fast and slow bowling. He got himself out when a hundred beckoned, rather than being bested by a good delivery, but there was plenty for Sri Lanka fans to be encouraged about in that innings. The middle order may be the place for him.
Did little to bust the argument that he struggles on fast, bouncy pitches, though he did regroup well after Melbourne to make two purring half centuries in Sydney. Still, he was unable to provide the big score his side needed from him. His captaincy was also worryingly conservative at times, and in every innings but the final one in Sydney, he did not bring Herath on as early as he could have. He still has plenty to offer the team with the bat, but more importantly, he will need to work closely with Angelo Mathews to ensure his successor can have a successful tenure.
175 runs at 29.16, 2 wickets at 58.5
A good 75 in Hobart, but precious little else. Mathews still doesn't seem to have mastered the skill of batting well for long periods and his frustrating habit of throwing away starts bore no signs of ceasing. He is expected to become captain in all forms at the end of the tour, but he still has a long way to develop as a player. He was economical with the ball, but perhaps what is needed is a more singular focus on his batting.
140 runs at 23.33
A 30 in Hobart was the best he could show for his two first Tests, but hit a sparkling 85 in the second innings in Sydney to redeem his tour somewhat. There are obvious flaws in his game, particularly to the full ball outside off stump, but there is enough spunk and ability there to suggest he could become a very good Test opener. He may seem suited for limited overs cricket, but he needs to be kept away from those formats for now, until he develops a more robust technique. Sri Lanka need him to be a good Test batsman first.
85 runs at 28.33, 2 catches and 1 stumping
Only had three innings with the bat, but failed to provide much in the way of substance in them. His glovework in Hobart was terrific however, and Sri Lanka missed him sorely behind the stumps in Melbourne, where sharp chances that might have brought them back into the game were spilled.
6 wickets at 42.83
Was lucky to pick up three scalps in the first innings in Hobart, but returned in the second innings to bowl some tighter spells. Also used the old ball well, but succumbed to injury early in the Melbourne Test. He has had an injury-ravaged 10 months, and at 31, he cannot afford many more long layoffs.
5 wickets at 50.40
Had good pace at times, and was dangerous when he moved the ball, but it happened too infrequently for him to pose a major threat. His forte is taking the ball away from the right hander, and he was frustrated by an Australian top-order carrying largely southpaws. He has good pace, but needs to be able to maintain it, but more importantly, he needs to improve the modest movement he has been getting.
Bowled well on day two in Melbourne, picking up three wickets there, but was underwhelming in Sydney, where he traveled for plenty. Needs to move the ball to become effective at his pace and height.
2 wickets at 64
Could match the quickest Australian bowlers for pace, but his lack of control left much to be desired. Is capable of becoming a decent fast bowler, but needs to stave away injury and work on becoming more consistent. His 24-ball resistance with the bat in the second innings was also heartening, and helped give the visitors a glimmer of hope heading into the fourth innings.
Wicketless in his only outing, but often he seemed the only bowler capable of supporting Rangana Herath. Built up decent periods of pressure throughout the first Test, and finished with an economy rate of 2.36. May never win Sri Lanka a Test, but the attack lacks control at present, and he seems the only bowler capable of providing it.
Had just one training session in which to adjust to Australian conditions, but was mediocre nonetheless. He is coming back from an ankle surgery, but though he found a regular place in the side twelve months ago, will now need to jostle with three or four others for a spot in future. Loses a mark for playing an awful stroke in the second innings, when the team and Chandimal desperately needed him to stick around.
79 runs at 13.16
What was most disconcerting about Samaraweera's series was not the paucity of runs, but the manner of his dismissals. In Melbourne, he was out playing an irresponsible hook shot on 10, and in Sydney, he charged Nathan Lyon and played an ungainly swipe entirely inconsistent with his formula for success. He is the oldest member of the team, and with so few Tests to come in 2013, Samaraweera's inspiring career may be about to wind down. That said, he has proved doubters wrong several times before.
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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