SL batsmen's lack of focus costly - Ford
Sri Lanka's batsmen may have been scuppered by cluttered minds on day two of the first Test in Hobart, deems Sri Lanka's coach Graham Ford, as they slumped to 87 for 4 by stumps after Australia had scored 450 for 5. Sri Lanka could only remove Michael Clarke on the day, before Mike Hussey progressed to an unbeaten 19th Test century, putting on 146 with Matthew Wade.
Though Sri Lanka's bowlers had avoided being dominated for much of Australia's innings, they were milked for more than six runs an over in the 11 overs preceding Australia's declaration. Then, Sri Lanka's batsmen were not confronted with alarming movement, but largely lost their wickets to indiscipline while facing testing deliveries.
"Perhaps we weren't quite up to it with the bat today." Ford said. "I think the boys were busy thinking of what's gone on so far; hopefully we can come out in the morning and put up a good fight. They put us under a lot of pressure, batted superbly and got a lot of runs on the board, then with the ball they put us under a lot of pressure as well."
Tillakaratne Dilshan made a positive fifty, finishing the day unbeaten. He will resume on day three alongside Angelo Mathews - the pair comprise the two in-form batsmen in the side. Mathews was by far the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka in the recent series against New Zealand, and has also made his only century against Australia. Dilshan, meanwhile, hit a hundred in the tour match in Canberra last week.
"I don't think there [are] any demons in the surface," Ford said. "It's a classy bowling unit. They have put the ball in the right place and there has been some movement here and there. Dilshan has shown that if you focus you can handle what comes in your way.
"When the innings was in progress the batting coach was speaking to some of the batters who were due to come in and [about] one or two technical things that Dilshan was putting in place well."
Ford said Thilan Samaraweera's dismissal off what became the final ball of the day was especially difficult to stomach, because Sri Lanka had only one more over to see out before stumps. Samaraweera was caught behind off Nathan Lyon, who surprised the batsman with the bounce he achieved with his top-spinner.
"Losing the wicket at the end of the day is tough to handle. Disappointing. We almost thought that we got through with three down so it does hurt. I am sure if we can bat well when the match goes on Rangana [Herath] will come in and have an impact."
Left-arm spinner Herath went wicketless in the first innings, but is the second-highest wicket-taker for 2012 and has a superior average this year to Graeme Swann, who tops the list. There was little turn available for him, but Ford said his side had not expected their spearhead to be a force in Hobart.
"The records suggest that it's toughest for Herath to have an impact here. So probably at the other two venues he should come into the game a lot more, and that should give us a better chance. I am also very hopeful that our seamers are improving all the time. I thought Shaminda Eranga bowled well for a man who has three Tests under his belt. We have to try and see how he comes through. We got only five wickets, but he has given us something to be positive about. It will take an effort from the seam unit as well as the one bowler who is going to set it up. Hopefully everyone has learned from today, as it's important that seamers from the other end support Rangana Herath."
Ford also lauded the longevity of Michael Hussey, who now averages 125.28 against Sri Lanka, and has hit five of his 19 hundreds against them. "Just looking at how fit and quick he is between the wickets, that's really impressive for his age. At this stage he looks like he has a few good years ahead of him. He is a bloody good player."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent