Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day

'I totally blame the batting' - Tillakaratne

Charlie Austin

March 12, 2004

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Despite dominating for the first two days, Sri Lanka ultimately capitulated rather meekly. Here is what Hashan Tillakaratne, their captain, had to say after the disappointing defeat:

Thilan Samaraweera: one of the batsmen who let the team down © Getty Images

His take on the match: We dominated the first two days and I thought they fought very hard and played very good cricket from the third day onwards. We shouldn't get rattled; we must get together and pull up our socks in the next two games. The batsmen are experienced enough to come back and make a big contribution.

On where the match turned around: We could have got more runs on the first session of the third day. I thought we played a little negative cricket [during that period]. The one-and-a-half hours [in the morning session] we just relaxed a bit as we knew we had 130 on the board before we started the third day.

Our bowling in the second innings was not all that good. The support bowling for Murali wasn't all that good, and we gave them too many boundary balls. The Australians adapted very well to the turning track.

On Sri Lanka's capitulation on the fifth day: On the fifth day the wicket was bad, there was so many rough patches on that track. The first session was very vital. We lost five wickets for 90. From there it was very difficult to save a Test match.

However, I think we made the pitch look difficult to bat on. We needed one of our top three batsmen to play a big innings so that the others could bat around him but that didn't happen. I totally blame the batting for not saving the Test. You can survive on this track, [it's] just that we were so casual in our approach and gave it to them on a platter.

On his unusually aggressive approach with the bat: I thought of playing positively because we had lost six wickets already. If I had defended it would not have made a difference. So I thought I should try and take Warne on.

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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