Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Last-day pitch a 'minefield' - SL coach

Andrew Fernando in Hobart

December 19, 2012

Comments: 134 | Text size: A | A

Angelo Mathews gets hit by a Mitchell Starc delivery, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 5th day, December 18, 2012
Angelo Mathews attempted to duck under a Mitchell Starc bouncer, but ended up getting hit on the elbow © Getty Images
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Given Sri Lanka's history in Hobart, a target of 393 in the first Test was not out of reach in the four sessions available to them. In 2007, Kumar Sangakkara's 192 had propelled the visitors to 410, but in 2012, chances of an upset win evaporated soon after Sri Lanka's openers took guard on the fourth day. A fissured pitch spat up steepling brutes and ankle-high shooters with equal abandon making even survival a daunting prospect.

"If we just look at the last day, I am unbelievably proud of the performance the boys put in," Graham Ford, the Sri Lanka coach, said. "That surface really became a minefield. It was very difficult. Australia got the ball to reverse swing considerably. If you look at probably just about every dismissal, it took a real cracker of a delivery to get the batsman out. As a coach you can't really ask for much more from your troops the way the boys battled out there.


"It was an entertaining Test match and a lot happened. Lots of runs scored, bowlers took five-wicket hauls and it went down to the last hour. If you look at all of that, one feels that it was a good pitch. But looking at the way the ball behaved on day five, you have to say that it was a lot more in favour of the bowlers than it was for the batters and perhaps a little bit unfairly so."

On day five, the northwest breeze helped widen the cracks and make the pitch more volatile with each session. In the morning, Shane Watson got a ball to jag back hard off the surface to hit Kumar Sangakkara on the pads. Only a review, showing the ball had hit him outside the line of off stump, allowed Sangakkara to continue. In the afternoon, Thilan Samaraweera was similarly reprieved when a ball spurted beneath his bat from a length to hit him low on the shin - again outside off stump.



As the day wore on, even Nathan Lyon's seemingly innocuous deliveries started darting around, while the fast men repeatedly hit the batsmen, getting the ball to either rear up off a fuller length or bounce much lower than the batsmen expected off a shorter length. Angelo Mathews attempted to duck under a Mitchell Starc bouncer, but ended up getting hit on the elbow, while Nuwan Kulasekara and Prasanna Jayawardene wore balls on the ribcage. 



Mahela Jayawardene was less critical of the surface, but did say the pitch played unpredictably on the fifth day.

"It was a challenging wicket. Before the Test started a lot of things were spoken about this wicket and it was suggested teams wouldn't last for three days. We battled it out for five days. The plates were moving towards the latter part of the Test match."



Sri Lanka had been well placed to draw the Test at tea on day five, having lost only one batsman in each preceding session in the day, which they began at 65 for 2. Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka's form batsman, was at the crease with Thilan Samaraweera at the start of the final session of the match. A loose drive from Mathews however ended their resistance, and began the sequence that saw Sri Lanka slide to defeat with 10.4 overs remaining in the Test. 



"Tea time, it was pretty much even," Jayawardene said. "They knew they had to pick up early wickets soon after tea. We had 30 or 35 overs to bat. We had two batsmen in, and it was a situation where we had to bat an hour and a half with those two guys somehow, and we probably would have pushed them [Australia] back and they would have had to use all their main bowlers. We lost two wickets soon after tea in the space of six or seven overs, and that lifted things up for them. That was probably crucial. They played good cricket throughout the Test match and deserved to be in that position."

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 21, 2012, 15:59 GMT)

@Meety, just ignore this Sinhaya-2. As a person who has English as the first language like you, you can easily figure that my typing style and that of Sinhaya-2 is quite different. Important you understand ground reality as it is easy to love your own country. I am surprised not to see RandyOZ comment at all during this series. Problem with internet is that people can freely open accounts and post nonsense in anonymously. But to be able to comment like this has the advantages too. Cricinfo knows very well when not to allow comments like how they blocked comments for the day 5 of the Hobart match report and also for Siddle's ball tampering story. Comments will close shortly for this section.

Posted by Htc-Android on (December 21, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

@Sinhaya-2. There is no way welegedera is in the Top15. Sachin,dravid, laxman are good players. They performed poorly during the last tour to Aus and Eng. But in their previous tour Sachin and dravid have scored some memorable hundreds.

Posted by Meety on (December 21, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

@Sinhaya on (December 20 2012, 16:58 PM GMT) - they say immitation is the best form of flattery. I think your twin adds nothing to the discussions.

Posted by Sageleaf on (December 20, 2012, 22:11 GMT)

I totally agree with yohandf1984's comments here. If only SL had played sensibly in the first innings, they would have saved the match. Sri Lankan tail-enders batted as if they were in T20 and just gifted wickets to Siddle. If they have played little longer the result of the match would have been different. The problem is since of late SL is playing negative cricket when you have to be positive. I still believe SL can beat Australia this time even can go 2-1. But it's going to be tough but it's possible. Just don't blame the pitch and absolutely no room for complacency. Sri Lanka's batting, bowling and fielding has to be immaculate. That's what the Aussies bring to the table.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 20, 2012, 16:58 GMT)

@reality_check27, I am different to Sinhaya-2. After seeing your latest comments I am also reciprocating. Actually India did well to win 2 tests in Australia in the last 10 years because of the great batting by Laxman and Dravid. Yes Tendulkar played a big part in it too. I am saying Tendulkar last out of the famous 3 because I am not a fan of his. India winning 2 tests in Australia is great because Pakistan with their great bowlers could not win a test in Australia after the 1995 SCG win. Dilshan is still inconsistent as he suddenly comes out with a blazing knock like in Lords last year, but could fail badly for about 5 more innings.

Posted by reality_check27 on (December 20, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

@sinhaya-2 i agree with you as far as dilshan goes he is way beter than sehwag but to say that sang mahel and samaraweera are better than sachin, dravid and laxman even australians will laugh at that let alone indians. the only batsman who plays well in australia from srilanka is sanga dilshan played well in the first test and so did matthews but to compare them to what dravid laxman and sachin have done in australia is a bit too much too say.anyways bets of luck for the second test it should be a good contest.

Posted by reality_check27 on (December 20, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

@sinhaya-2 i agree with you as far as dilshan goes he is way beter than sehwag but to say that sang mahel and samaraweera are better than sachin, dravid and laxman even australians will laugh at that let alone indians. the only batsman who plays well in australia from srilanka is sanga dilshan played well in the first test and so did matthews but to compare them to what dravid laxman and sachin have done in australia is a bit too much too say.anyways bets of luck for the second test it should be a good contest.

Posted by Solace1 on (December 20, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

@swauzzie: We have two bowlers welegedra and herath who are among the top 15 in the world, u guys have somehow made sure perera plays in big bash or else he would have been third, regarding batsmen, don't u know dilshan? he scored a 100 now, he is a better batsman than sehwag,then we have the trio of sanga mahela and samaraweera who are better than dravid sachin and laxman, that means we got more top class batsmen than you mentioned!! don't forget matthews too!!

Posted by trumpoz on (December 20, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

Sri Lankan management and fans should stop whinging and admit you got beaten by a better team. Had your batting lineup performed properly in the first innings it may have been a different story. Getting bowled out by the Australian team with one bowler down should be embarassing enough without making yourselfs look even more stupid.

Posted by swauzzie on (December 20, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

@Sinhaya-2 Where are you going to get players from to be able to do that? You only have 1 bowler & 2 batsmen?

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