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India v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Ahmedabad, 5th day

Indian spinners 'exploited the wickets better' - Atapattu

Dileep Premachandran at Ahmedabad

December 22, 2005

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Marvan Atapattu and Tom Moody analyse the reasons for Sri Lanka's poor showing in the series

Tom Moody: 'Sanath's a wonderful player. But he wasn't selected, and I don't think the outcome of the series had much to do with that' © Getty Images

Marvan Atapattu

On the reasons for the debacle

Looking back at it, I would put it down to not capitalising on the chances that we had been given. Even here, we had them in a spot of bother in the first innings. The other thing is that we can't take anything away from their lower-order batsmen, and the manner in which they played Muttiah Muralitharan.

On why the Indian lower order had done so well

It's a difficult question to answer. It's not like you can't bat well just because you're a lower-order batsman. But they played very well. And I think [Irfan] Pathan handled Murali best.

On the difference between his spinners and the Indians, and whether the SG ball played a part

I think they got more bounce than our two spinners. Talking to Harbhajan Singh, he reckoned that too. They exploited the wickets better, and were also fortunate to win both tosses.

On Lasith Malinga and his short-ball barrage

That's the only thing he knows best. He's not a McGrath type of bowler to pitch the ball on a spot. We've given him license to be himself, and not someone else.

Tom Moody

On the batting collapses, and whether they were related to poor technique

Not at all. As Marvan has said, I think it was down to lack of concentration. It's never easy to bat against two quality spinners, and we failed to adjust.

On where the series was lost

We were in very strong positions in both Tests [Delhi and Ahmedabad], but failed to drive home the advantage. We only turned up for half the game, and that's not good enough. We need to learn from that, and compete over five days, not just for two and a half.

On whether they were a bowler short

Not at all. The bowling attack was well-balanced. And Murali tends to bowl a high percentage of the overs, particularly in conditions like those over here. Putting an extra bowler out to pasture at fine leg or third man wouldn't have made a difference. We just didn't have the killer instinct. India had the patience and the persistence and it was a good team effort from them.

On what he would take from the series

The experience of playing two fine spin bowlers in their conditions. We could've bowled better, no doubt about that. But the fielding was a considerable improvement on what we saw in the one-day series. The middle order also needs to capitalise on starts and get the team total to 400 and beyond.

On the absence of Jayasuriya

Sanath's a wonderful player. But he wasn't selected, and I don't think the outcome of the series had much to do with that. On the other hand, we might have seen the birth of another opening batsman here. Upul Tharanga played a high-quality innings, and showed very good temperament and technique against two very good spinners, and a fine new-ball bowler in Pathan. He was one of the bright spots to come out of this match.

On how he rated the Indian team

Obviously, India are a different side away from home. They're a real force in home conditions, with some real momentum coming from the media and the crowds. I think they will remain very difficult to play on home soil. They played some solid cricket, and looked like they were enjoying it. Only time will tell where they go from here.

On the morale within his own squad

It's very high. We faced difficult times during the one-day series, and have been beaten 2-0 now, but there have been several positives. We just haven't competed over the full five days. But we had India on the ropes in all the three Tests, and it's not like we've been thrashed. We were caught napping on two or three days and that allowed India to come back.

On who would have the edge when India played Pakistan

India have done very well of late, but Pakistan have done just as well, if not better. They're an emerging side with a lot of talent, and if they're all fit, I think they'll start slight favourites.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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