Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, SSC, 4th day August 31, 2015

Sri Lanka blighted by batting disorder

Every time the bowlers have earned Sri Lanka a slim advantage during this series, the batsmen have found ways to let them down, at the crease and in the field
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Even in the field, Sri Lanka's bowling unit, including the athletic Tharindu Kaushal, has set itself apart from a set of butterfingered batsmen © AFP

So far in the series, Sri Lanka's batsmen have lost their top five for less than 110 in four of five completed innings. They have been perplexed by spin. They have been cut down by seam. Their bowlers, meanwhile, have not conceded more than 400 in an innings, and more than 350 only once. They have won one match defending a small score. They have kept India's top order in check. Right through the past three weeks, every time they have earned Sri Lanka a slim advantage, their batsmen have found ways to let them down.

India had spoken about fielding five specialist bowlers in the first Test of this series, but Sri Lanka have probably never even considered it. That might seem wise at first, but in this Test, it's the lower order that has made the runs. Five bowlers is arguably not enough for Sri Lanka. If they stack the team with seven or eight, it would give Angelo Mathews options in the field, and surely, the team's batting will not get any weaker. Within a year or two this army of bowlers would probably even develop decent batting techniques. If a cucumber had been given as many chances at the top level as some of the young batsmen have, it would have probably found a way to last longer at the crease by now.

Fielding at fine leg on Monday, Rangana Herath ran around to settle under a difficult high catch - as tough as any Sri Lanka have taken in the series. Dhammika Prasad has also taken a fine diving catch in that fourth innings in Galle, and Tharindu Kaushal has been athletic off his own bowling as well as at backward point. Even in the field the bowling unit has set itself apart. All most of the batsmen have done is give easy catches behind the wicket, then drop easy catches, usually behind the wicket.

For a change, today's mandatory dropped catch came at short cover, after which Amit Mishra and R Ashwin added a further, frustrating 38 runs together. In first two Tests, Sri Lanka had dropped Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul before either batsman had reached 30. Both of them went on to make important first-innings tons.

The hosts' batting problems have been so dire in this series, that for this match, they've slighted the bowlers even further by relieving Dinesh Chandimal of the gloves, in the hope he will be more effective with the bat. Kusal Perera's batting is supremely fun to watch, but his keeping is not. He reprieved Virat Kohli in the first innings. In the 30th over of India's innings on Monday, Stuart Binny was so far out of his crease, he would have needed to carry supplies for the journey back. Still Kusal missed the stumping, and the batsman added 24 more to his score. It's not really Kusal's fault. It's the team management who have handed the Test-match gloves to a man who doesn't even always keep for his first-class side.

Sri Lanka fans love nothing more than defeating India, but with one day left in the series, they are left with only the tiniest sliver of hope, and a few minuscule crumbs of peripheral comfort. It has been encouraging that Mathews continues to prove himself one of the best batsmen in the world, for one. His final innings not yet done, he has outscored all the tourists in this series. Unlike the other batsmen, Kaushal Silva has been a decent close-in catcher as well, and his scoring rate has been on a gentle incline, though his runs have not been consistent.

There are also the Sri Lankan pitches, which have at least done their own part for the bowlers. The cricket has not always been high-quality, but as batsmen have been continuously tested, the watching has been good. There have been results in each of the seven most recent Tests on the island, and there should be another on day five, provided all 98 overs can be bowled. If fans can't say their cricketers are better than India's they can at least heap praise on their groundsmen.

As the home Test season comes to an end, Sri Lanka can be happy its attack has a future. Kaushal is raw, but gets the ball to dip and kick. Prasad has become the seam attack's colourful leader. Pradeep's bowling average keeps shuffling downwards. Even Dushmantha Chameera could become a decent Test bowler. The batsmen, so long pampered and persisted with, have been mediocre. They are less of a sure thing.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2015, 7:37 GMT

    game is now changing,because of achiving profitable targets,cricket adminitrators have to attrct tv broadcasters,spectators and use other revenue generated strategies to raise funds .so modern days test pitches are prepaired to find decisions at the end of the day five,some times before day five.so seam friendly traks,bounce and turn pitches,more grassy pitches can be seen in the future,because of this scenareo we need find players who can score runs within very short perids.more watchfull,negative,low strike rate tecnicians are useless for future test cricket,so players with good foot works ,tecniques,high strike rate ,bold,playing strokes without hesitation need to be found.kusal,milinda,kapugedara,chandimal,shehan,banuka,dikwella ars examples

  • charaka on September 3, 2015, 8:39 GMT

    Lets hope batters specially karunarathne, thirimanna and chandimal will score some runs agaist WI. We have to find our next mahela ( we wont have next sanga for sure) , thirimanna is the candidate who failed to prove so far that he will be in that caliber

  • Dudley on September 2, 2015, 22:25 GMT

    Poor show Sri Lanka in batting and fielding. You have a lot to learn. Dudley Gunasena, Eastwood, Australia.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2015, 14:48 GMT

    please cut from test team tirimanne,mubarak,tharanga. they can"t bowl,bat & field. bring siriwardane,bhanuka rajapasha,shehan jayasuriya for windies tour.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2015, 11:50 GMT

    kapugedara,kandambi must be given chance to play test cricket,if selectors gave chances to mubarak,thirimenne,why they cant allow them to play international cricket.domestic level records are not good indicator to measure international cricketers,real example mubarak,even though he scored more than 1000 runs in domestic cricket,he put much efforts to score 10 runs in test match,also he struggle to negotiate with international bowlers.but kusal,chandimal,milinda,kapugedara are run scoring players who can change the game within one hour

  • Saliya on September 2, 2015, 10:52 GMT

    Where is Chamara Kapugedara? Young man did well in a T20's given to him, this is NO. 3 batsman for the team. whats wrong in scoring runs faster in test or in a 50 over game if the players is capable? something wrong with SL selection board. At least one good thing Kusal Perera is back in the side. they must have no. 1 to 4 batters in the side for all forms of the game does not matter in which position they bat in Test team, but they must be in the team. once a Player sees the ball in all formats he will deliver with confidence. How much toleration will be given to Thirimanne, Mubarak, Tharanga ???

  • Dinesh on September 2, 2015, 10:51 GMT

    Except Mathews and Chandimal Very few SL young players have 30+ average in Test

    Kapugedara's Test Avg 34.83 Dimuth 's Test avg is 34.05 . Kusal Silva's Test avg is 33.80 Upual Tharanga's Test avg 31.80

    Lahiru's test avg is 26.13 Mubarak's test avg is 17.40

    Lahiru and Mubarak should not be in test squad. Thilina kandambi, Tharanga Pranavithna, Milinda Siriwardna, Nirosan Dickwella are much better test players

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2015, 9:05 GMT

    highly intensive efforts by pradeep,dammika,herath.kaushal not impresive,thiremanne,kaushal,sangakkara,tharanga,karunarathne,mubarak did not contribute anything as batsmen.4/7=59% failed as batsmen.spinners are not efective as ashwin.poor feilding ,drop impotant catches.thrimenne,karunaratne,tharanga are not suited for test cricket,replaced them with new yung blood like milinda,danja de silva,kusal mendis

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2015, 9:05 GMT

    bring Sehan Jaysuriya , Shaminda Eranga , Dilruwan Perera . Give last chance to Silva and Tharanga against West Indies . Tharanga, Silva,Dimuth, Chandimal, Matthews,Sehan Jaysuriya, Kushal Perara, Herath, Kaushal/Sandikan/Dilruwan, Eranga, Prasad

  • Ravi on September 2, 2015, 4:19 GMT

    @ KAYS789. Quote 'If the SL team had a coach and a management with an ounce of brain, they would have won this series already'. Credit must be given where it is due. This Indian team played better cricket than the Lankans and thus were able to fashion a series win. Any cricket team needs a good coach and team management; but that cannot take away from the fact that the persons on the field playing the game win or lose it for you. To say that Sri Lankans would have won the series if they had better team management and coach is plain rubbish. Twisted logic but not a realistic reading of the situation. Also,by saying so, you seem to actually suggest that the Lankan players are mediocre and need superior management and coach to give them series victories!

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