Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 8, 2007

Sri Lanka optimistic despite dropped chances

Muttiah Muralitharan dismissed Phil Jacques and Ricky Ponting to edge closer to Shane Warne's world record of 708 wickets (file photo) © Getty Images
Despite an ordinary fielding display where they put down three easy catches, Sri Lanka had reason to feel pleased with their performance on the opening day.

Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene stood out with two stumpings off Muttiah Muralitharan, which edged the offspinner closer to breaking Shane Warne's world record of 708 Test wickets. Muralitharan who started the Test needing nine wickets to break the record, ended with figures of two for 67, but it could have been even better had the catches offered by centurion Phil Jaques been held.

Jaques was first let off by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip when he was on 60 and then by Thilan Samaraweera at second slip on 90. He also had a narrow escape at 66 when Chamara Silva failed in his attempt to catch him at cover, the ball dropping short. Towards the end of the day Marvan Atapattu added his name to the growing list of dropped catchers when he put down Michael Hussey (12) at midwicket off Farveez Maharoof.

"I can't explain why we dropped so many catches on the first day. No team goes into the field to drop catches, but basically I think we did well at the end of the day despite all those misses," Jayawardene said. "If we had held those catches we would have been in a good position, unfortunately we put them down. But as a team we did well."

Jayawardene, who chose to field, was surprised that the ball did not bounce or seam as much as he expected to. "The thinking behind fielding first, considering the conditions that were there in the morning and the bowling we had, we thought we could have got a little bit more out of the track.

"The ball didn't seam or swing around but the pitch had enough in it to keep the bowlers interested. The good thing about it today, forgetting the dropped catches, is that it was still a very good bowling performance by the guys.

"It could have easily have been the case where we could have started off well and dropped away at the end. But we stuck at it. We started off okay and improved through the day and managed to stay in the game at close of play. Tomorrow we have the opportunity to have a better day."

Jayawardene said leaving out fast bowler Lasith Malinga from the final 11 was a team decision. "It just shows that our bench strength in fast bowling is improving fast and we have a more balanced attack than we've had in the past. We are in a position where we can leave a performing bowler out and allow others to get games and win matches for us. Unfortunately Lasith was the guy to miss out today."