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Andrew Fernando in Hobart
December 17, 2012
Sri Lanka will have to contend with turn in addition to variable bounce on the final day of the first Test in Hobart, after Rangana Herath credited a surface that was becoming increasingly conducive to spin for his five-wicket haul on day four. Herath's 5 for 96 helped restrict Australia to 278 in the second innings, and was aided by a wearing, cracked surface that offered much more lateral movement for him than in the first innings.
Australia's offspinner Nathan Lyon had already exploited the bowler's footmarks when he bowled earlier in the Test, and dismissed Thilan Samaraweera with a topspinner that leapt off the turf. Lyon is set to have a high workload on day five, with Ben Hilfenhaus' injury leaving Australia a bowler short, and Michael Clarke also unlikely to bowl his left-arm orthodox spin due to a hamstring strain.
Herath will now likely finish as the top wicket-taker in 2012, with 60 wickets and a Test to go. His five-wicket haul in Hobart was his seventh of the year in nine matches.
"I didn't get a wicket in the first innings, but on a fourth day pitch I thought that there would be some assistance for the spinner, and there was some turn and bounce," Herath said. "The ball does not spin as much as Sri Lanka, but if you maintain a good line and length, you can take wickets.
"Lyon will get turn and bounce as well - he always gets bounce because he is tall, and he will have the assistance of the surface as well."
Several seasons of county cricket before he became a mainstay in Sri Lanka's Test side also contributed to his performance in Hobart, he said.
"I used my experience of playing in England. When you get wickets on a pitch like this it's always pleasing. The main thing is that it helped me to adapt to the situation and the pitch, and I managed to do that. That's why I was successful."
Herath said Sri Lanka had not ruled out victory, and backed Sri Lanka's batsmen to see out the final day if a draw seemed the better option. Sri Lanka were set 393 for victory, but lost both openers in the 37 overs before stumps. They will begin at 65 for 2 on day five, with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara at the crease, and 328 runs required for victory.
"Draw is possible if we can bat the first session without losing wickets, it's going to be an interesting day," he said. "The pitch is a bit up and down, but apart from that it looks a good track so far."
David Warner set out to dominate Herath in the first session of the day, venturing a switch-hit sweep off his bowling after already having struck him for six, but Herath said he did not want a rule change disallowing batsmen from changing their grip, mid-shot.
"Batsmen have done it against my bowling before as well. I don't mind Warner playing that shot because he is creating more chances for me to get him out. In the end I took his wicket."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondentFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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