Dropped catches cost us - Jayawardene
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said the two dropped catches in the third session on day one were crucial and might have changed the complexion of the Melbourne Test, in which Sri Lanka were defeated inside three days.
The innings and 201-run loss is the third heaviest in Sri Lanka's Test history, as the visitors succumbed to 103 all out in 24.2 overs in the second innings. Kumar Sangakkara was retired hurt however, and Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara did not bat due to injury.
The visitor's first innings total was only marginally better at 156 all out but they took three Australian wickets in the evening session on day one to have the hosts 117 for 3. But two catches went down soon after when Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to hold on to a chance from Michael Clarke, off Rangana Herath, and Sangakkara shelled an edge off Shane Watson's bat.
Watson and Clarke finished the day with Australia on 150 for 3 and batted Australia into a commanding lead on day two with a 194-run partnership. They were also reprieved twice on the second morning in the same Herath over when Sangakkara could not collect the ball to stump Clarke, and Jayawardene dropped a slip catch off Watson.
"The first day was a tough one to come back from, but we fought really well in the latter part of the first evening," Jayawardene said. "We dropped two catches I thought was crucial at that time and things would have been different but Michael went and got a hundred and Watto got a fifty.
"Overall a very disappointing Test for us. Given the fact that we had played really well in Hobart and coming here, we had a lot of confidence and a good plan to execute but it was very unfortunate. That's something that we as a team need to sit down and have a good chat among ourselves and see where we need to go from here."
The tour has been particularly disappointing for Jayawardene, who has four failures in as many innings in the series so far. In the first innings in Melbourne he edged Peter Siddle to the wicketkeeper for 3, before falling for zero in the second dig, edging a Jackson Bird indipper onto the stumps as he attempted to leave the ball.
He has played several crucial innings at home in 2012, but his unflattering away record has been worsened in the last two years - he hasn't scored a fifty outside the subcontinent since March 2008 - where he averages 16.81 in the last two years, against a career average away from home of 38.00, a mark somewhat lower than his career average of 49.41.
"I have worked hard on my batting, but I haven't spent enough time in this series to see how badly I am batting. At practices I am hitting the ball pretty well, but three to four overs is not enough to assess where I need to be in the series. It's just not individuals but as a team we all need to take responsibility."
Jayawardene also said he hoped Dilshan would not make wholesale changes to his approach, despite an injudicious stroke having brought his demise in the first innings. Dilshan had been aggressive from the outset, missing his first ball having aimed a booming cover drive, and perishing after swiping across the line to a Mitchell Johnson inswinger that disturbed his stumps. Johnson also removed Dilshan in the second innings for a first-ball duck.
"Dilly is in pretty good nick. He is a naturally gifted strokeplayer and what he showed in Hobart was that he could dominate a bowling unit and get runs. He found Mitch difficult in this Test match but he is an experienced player. He will go back and revisit what happened and come back strongly. We don't want him to not play his game, because that's where he is most lethal for us."
Jayawardene denied that his spat with Sri Lanka Cricket in the lead up to the Test affected the team's preparation and mentality. SLC had issued a release stating its Executive Committee would review Jayawardene's actions after the Sri Lanka captain had said he "lost all confidence in dealing with SLC" over a leaked letter.
"I don't think it's that big an issue. It's something that's disappointing and that happened between the two Test matches, but I am focused on this tour. I told the SLC as well, and I am willing to move on."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here