England v Sri lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley June 19, 2014

Sri Lanka bowlers prepared for more toil


Sri Lanka's quicks will work to the blueprint they had set down in the UAE, as they attempt to leave England with their first Test win since 2006, Angelo Mathews said on the eve of the Headingley Test. The fast bowlers toiled for long spells against Pakistan in January, but found success in limiting scoring options, and consistently hitting a good length outside off stump.

The pitch at Headingley should also be more responsive than the surfaces Sri Lanka encountered on that tour. England's captain, Alastair Cook, predicted that a little more grass on the surface should make for more pace and bounce than Lord's pitch offered, and the low cloud forecast for much of the match may also make conditions conducive to lateral movement.

According to Mathews, Sri Lanka's captain, Sri Lanka will nevertheless aim first to be consistent, before turning to creativity.

"I don't think there will be a departure from bowling line and length," he said."We'll try and stick to our basics. If needed, we'll try to change our plans and tactics a little bit, but all in all our strength is to keep it line and length and bowl in those good areas. But Test cricket is all about challenging the oppositions. It's about thinking a step further than the batsman. If you have to make those tactical changes we will."

A draw at Headingley would represent a moral victory for Sri Lanka, who have already sewn up the limited overs series, but Headingley has been one of the most consistent result-venues in the world, in recent years. Though Sri Lanka are seemingly outgunned in English conditions, Mathews issued characteristic statements on his side's positive "intent".

"I think the pitch gives us a chance as well. We've got some good seamers. Rather than make it a flat wicket, it's always good to have a sporting wicket where both teams have their chances. Whatever we do first - bat or bowl - we've got to do it well and set the tone for the game.

"If we can win the game, that's what we're looking for. There is a bit of grass on the wicket, but you can't say anything until tomorrow. You can never predict a wicket 100%. We've just got to go out there, play positive cricket, and try to win. In those little situations where we have to toughen up - there will be so many situations like that over the next five days."

There has been some ill-feeling between the teams at various points in the tour, particularly following the mankad dismissal which Sri Lanka effected in the ODI series, and those sentiments were expected to continue on the field during the Tests.

Words were exchanged between bowlers, fielders and batsmen during the tense final session at Lord's, but Mathews downplayed the notion that on-field relations were uncommonly frosty.

"We play it hard. England play it hard and we play it hard. When you pass that white line, it's about trying to win. We've got a good relationship with England, and the players.

"At Lord's bowlers from both sides were hitting the deck hard - not giving the batsmen opportunity to score freely. That's the attitude you've got to take into a game, regardless of who you play. You have to make sure your intent is clear: to get the batsman out."

Mathews also added his voice to murmurs of frustration from the Sri Lanka camp that they will only play two Tests in England when the Future Tours Programme had prescribed three. "We would like to play more Test cricket in England, in Australia, and in South Africa. We've got only two Test matches, but we'll try to make the most of it."

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

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  • Dark on June 20, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    So its gonna be "opening with a walking wicket" for SL once again eh? Mark my words. If SL bat first, england will go on to win by an innings margin by day 3. If england put to bat first, same result in four days. It is unbelievable to see SL selectors persist with a provan walking wicket at the top, instead of giving a chance to a positive young guy like Kithruwan. And then you have Jimy andy's bunny, Thirimanne. Another duck. So SL are already in trouble before even setting fut on the ground. 0/2. You cant win games with passengers. you need players who can do their part.

  • Sinhhalaya on June 20, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    SL's biggest problem is its lower order. Batters from #7-11 all bat like typical number 11s. They are all Muralis, Walshes, McGraths or Chris Martins (sans the bowling talent). This has long been a systemic problem in the island's cricket. Either the so-called batting coaches are too busy or don't care to work with the tail-enders. We do not want Ashton Agars or Jason Gillespies overnight. But a gritty 30 or 40 from a consistent # 8 or #9 would help. It doesn't matter if it takes 100 plus deliveries in a test match. SL's think-tank would do well to address this glaring need. Any team knows that once you have SL 6 down, the end is nigh. As the pace bowling is weak and Herath has lost his tweak, all the batters need to step up to save (and maybe win) a test.

  • Amila on June 20, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    Chandimal for Prasanna and Vithanage for Thirimanna or Dimuth is a good option. From Vithanage's point he should work on his leg break bowling and it would definitely add value to his selection to the team. We saw his bowling in UAE and got a one wicket with one magical delivery. In previous match SL fast bowlers did well and in both innings taking 4 and 6 wickets for cheap that England bowlers didn't got that much wickets at the initial stages.

  • ESPN on June 20, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    I think that srilanka should look for a win if they have a chance of winning the test match due to the fact that we have never won a test match series in England

  • Shamalka on June 20, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    @Sageleaf: Walk the talk? Are you with a short termed memory? He's our most consistent player of all 3 formats. He got his name written on honors board in his very match played at the Lords. He faced crucial 89 balls in the 2nd innings to save the game when big talkers got out without facing even 20 balls. Cricket is not an individual game. Others have to support him as well. Don't forget that Herath was not out though he walked off and England also couldn't get our last wicket so in reality they got only 18 wickets in both innings. Our bowlers took 17 wickets. Just one less than England's tally and 3 less than total wickets tally. Matt prior wasn't given out in the 1st innings when he was plumb and had it given they wouldn't have scored even 400 runs in the 1st innings which could've changed the game in our favor. Don't ever underestimate the power of a common man!

  • Supeshala on June 20, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    SL bowlers should know how to bawl bouncers like English do . SL bowlers do not show the aggression when bowling.

  • Dummy4 on June 20, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    It is interesting to see how SL cricketers avoid the bouncers by taking the bat away from the ball unlike Kaushal Silva. Chandimal must avoid the hook shot as he got out that way, all the time, in recent tests.

  • Dummy4 on June 20, 2014, 1:10 GMT

    Vithanayage for Prasanna strengthens the batting. May be Herath will be redundant at Headingly. So SL should consider going with 4 fast bowlers and include Dhamika Prasad vice Herath. Vithanage can turn his arms over if needed fir a spell or two.one problem can be that Wth four pacers the bowling rate can further go down. That will suit SL.. As it did at Lords.

  • Chatty on June 19, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    On one thing I disagree with Angelo: The two tests are a result of SLC's actions, driven by player desire to play in the IPL. No point putting the blame on England. In the end, it will be all about SL's ability to handle seam movement. Pace and bounce will not be the major issue, rather, the seam movement. If they manage that, then SL have a good chance. But it will be tough. Good luck to SL!

  • Sage on June 19, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Angelo..just one advice..walk the talk man...that's all. Please play positive Cricket. Headingley is a fast track and it gives a result in most matches. you figure where you want to be. SL still couldn't get the England tail out twice. No place for complacency.

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