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May 29, 2006
Ahead of the third and final Test against England, the Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has called for an improved batting performance if they are to avoid a 2-0 series defeat. England comprehensively beat Sri Lanka in the second Test at Edgbaston - where they were bowled out for 141 in their first innings - after drawing the first at Lord's, in which they were dismissed for 192.
"Our biggest mistake is that we did not bat well in the first innings in both Tests," Jayawardene said. "If we can solve that problem we can definitely challenge England. Winning the toss on a very good wicket we had to take that advantage which we did not. After that we were actually chasing in the game," he said. "The wicket was dry. It was going to start turning and be uneven as well, but we made the big mistake the first morning.
"Our main problem is we have to be consistent with the bat. If we can put the runs on the board, we can definitely compete," Jayawardene insisted.
One of the few highlights in Sri Lanka's batting was the performance of their opener, Michael Vandort, who defied the England bowling for more than six-and-a-half hours in his 105 - an innings Jayawardene thought demonstrated immense character.
"It was probably one of the best innings I have seen," he said. "He batted through the innings in a very difficult period. There were a lot of wickets falling around him. He held the innings for us and showed a lot of character. He was very solid in defence as well. That's the confidence he needed. Probably it will solve our problems [sic].
"Upul Tharanga has been getting a lot of runs. He had a bad game probably after a long time (0 and 0). The last six months he has been batting really well. Hopefully the combination of Upul and Michael will give us a lot of confidence," he said.
Jayawardene dismissed the notion of reverting back to playing seven batsmen and four bowlers instead of six and five which they played at Edgbaston.
"I don't think going back to seven batsmen is an option because if you have to win Test matches you must have the option of five bowlers," he explained. "We need to have that variety in our attack especially with Farveez Maharoof and Chaminda Vaas, the way they are batting.
"Whoever the batsman is going to be, the six batters will have to do the job for us."
Whiled he reserved praise for Muttiah Muralitharan, who is carrying the Sri Lanka bowling attack almost single-handedly, Jayawardene was adamant that Muralitharan receives adequate support from the other bowlers.
"We need to figure out a way of getting early wickets and helping Murali out. That's probably one of the questions that we have to start answering. The bowling seems to be coming around. With Lasith Malinga coming into the attack gives us more variations and option to get 20 wickets. Murali is going to be our main bowler and he will do the job for us."
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