August 6, 2008

No cause for panic

Sri Lanka were less than optimal at Galle, failing to build partnerships in particular, but all's not lost yet

Jayawardene has been calm as a captain in the face of adversity, and he has been batting well too, which stands Sri Lanka in good stead © AFP

Looking back at the Galle Test, I must say that one of the turning points was when Malinda Warnapura and I were dismissed in relatively quick succession in our first innings. The team needed one of us to go on and get a hundred. Not a particularly big hundred, but one that would have extended the partnership and given Sri Lanka a large total. That would have made it easier for the other guys to bat around. Mahela Jayawardene had to bat with the tail to get 80, and he batted brilliantly, but it would have helped him and the rest to have one of the top three go on to get something bigger. Overall, in our first innings we had a good chance of going on a ways past 300, but we didn't take that opportunity. That's one area where we stuttered.

There seem to have been a few eyebrows raised over how Jayawardene batted with Nuwan Kulasekara, keeping strike and turning down opportunities to score. What Jayawardene was trying to do was shield Nuwan until he was set, and then there would have been more opportunities to score; they could have then taken singles. Unfortunately Jayawardene got out. Had that partnership progressed, there would have been opportunities to rotate singles, especially with Kulasekara set. It was a creditable performance by Kulasekara and a fantastic one by Jayawardene to get us to within 37 runs of India's score.

The crucial part of our second-innings chase of 308 was failing to get a start. We lost three early wickets and there on it was an uphill task. After Jayawardene got out, Thilan Samaraweera and Tillakaratne Dilshan shifted the momentum around a bit until Dilshan got out. That was a blow. It would have been very interesting to see the balance of the match shifting to and fro if he hadn't.

The burst of wickets by Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan was probably the turning point in the second innings. It was not that we were trying to score against the opening bowlers before the two experienced spinners came on. We play the bowling on merit. We knew the first four to six overs were going to be difficult and they proved exactly that.

Ishant bowled very well. The track did offer something for the fast bowlers if they hit the deck hard and hit the seam and bowled in the right channels. At the SSC there was nothing in it for Ishant to exploit other than with the new ball, but in Galle he settled down into a rhythm brilliantly - especially in that channel to right-handers. He kept asking questions and when you do that on a consistent basis, you get results.

People underestimate pace bowlers on flat wickets, and that helps them get breakthroughs with the new ball. That can then set up the game for the spinners. Over the years Vaas has managed to do that for us day in and day out

Pace is always going to be crucial, especially on flat tracks. People underestimate pace bowlers on such wickets, and that helps them get breakthroughs with the new ball. That can then set up the game for the spinners. Over the years Chaminda Vaas has managed to do that for us day in and day out, but it didn't happen in Galle. He did come back really well in his second and third spells. Kulasekara, on the other hand, bowled brilliantly in the first Test. He played a fantastic role up top, and in the first innings in Galle he started really well too, but Virender Sehwag was a big factor. That happens. As bowlers and as a side we must accept that it won't always go our way. That's why we have a varied bowling attack to take up different responsibilities.

Credit to Jayawardene for handling himself so well in the face of Sehwag's attack. Nothing much was going our way, but he was calm and collected - you need to think logically and rationally, which is what he did. That's how he's always been in his approach to his cricket. It's a great asset to have in tough situations and we as a team are very lucky to have it.

Looking to the final Test, I don't think the P Saravanamuttu Stadium is going to be different from any other venue. It will be a good track, great to bat on, with a lot of turn on days four and five. It offers bowlers something if you really bend your back.

It is way too early so say what changes, if any, we will make in the final Test. There is no reason to panic and all we have to do is raise our performance levels and have confidence in each other. We've done so well over the years and we know each other's abilities. That trust works well going into a game.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Davesh on August 7, 2008, 16:38 GMT

    Cannuck u seem to be like your captain - self professed smart one. Well without doubt he has scored tons of runs & i m not denying it but as you suggested let's not mix apples & oranges. Well if you separate apples ie his home record from his abroad record( say oranges) then you will be embarrassed. All those records of test scores/partnerships & what not have come at home. He has absolutely nothing to write about in his 'away' matches performances. Rightly said any idiot can pick up stats & make a case but smart ones definitely understand one thing - Stats over a period of 10 years reveals more than they hide. I think he has been in international cricket for over 10 years now. Now you as a die hard fan may ignore these stats but the rest of world doesn't. He's an ordinary cricketer with fantastic record in home. & good that you mention that SL first test victory was against India because it was a classic case of how bad umpiring can get.

  • Rajinda on August 7, 2008, 16:29 GMT

    Here are couple of reasons for Davesh_the_analyst, why Sana is not in the test team. HE RETIRED! That was his decision not anyone else's. Lot of you are quick to make MJ the villain for Marvan & Sana's exit, but hardly aware of the ins & outs of SL Cricket, Selectors, Politics & the Board. You also forget to look into their stats prior to retirement. It wasn't like Sana was on fire (in the test arena) when he retired. As for comparing Sana and Mahela & asking which one's the better batsmen... there comes that apples and mangoes comparison from Davesh. Let me ask you simply who is the better batsman, Sachin or Shewag? Ponting or Gillie? I can go on like this, but to people with a cricketing brain it's a moot point. One is a technically correct batsman while the other is more of attacking style which suites the ODs. Just because people like to see an attacking batsman, doesn't mean he is the better or most technically correct. One to it's own. Stop making stupid judgements and enjoy all.

  • Tony on August 7, 2008, 14:58 GMT

    Well Indian team made Team Srilanka to scare as they did to Australia when they were touring. Best of luck Srilanka.

  • Rajinda on August 7, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    Davesh_the_analyst, you analytical brain seem to have failed to remind you that MJ has been SL Captain only for the past 2 years, not the 20 years you make him responsible for. So if you judge his & the teams performance during that period, you will find that we have been WC finalists, Asia Cup Winners, Test winners (not series) in NZ, England & WI. Yes there were failures in Australia & India. But MJ has also scored the highest test innings for SL, record partnership with Sanga, & highest Test total, while being judged as the ICC captain of the year in 07 by better analysts than you. Any idiot can look up stats & make a case, but the smart ones don't mix apples & mangoes together. You have an issue with MJ's comments in press conferences & interviews, which others see as a positive thing. Lot of us have issues with Pontings comments too, but we don't call him overrated either. I agree MJ and Sanga needs to talk less, but just call a spade what it really is. MJ is a solid cricketer.

  • Upul on August 7, 2008, 14:26 GMT

    Most of you criticising SL's Test record are no doubt, die hard, head-in-the-sand Indian fanatics! pen your eyes for just a second. India's Test record in their first 50 years is absolutely dismal! It took them 30 years to win 1 Test match (not a series, that of course took longer), whereas it only took a few (around or less than 5 I think) years for Sri Lanka! Guess who they beat, that's right, it was India!. Even to this day, SL has a better overall win percentage than India (check cricinfo/wikipedia). Sri Lanka's away record is not great so far, but they have won series abroad even if you discount Zim and Ban. Let's not forget, they have only been playing for 25 years or so, therefore, in Test terms, they're stil a young Test team. And their home record is v.v good. For a small population in comparison to Ind, they do v.well. The third Test will be tight. Mendis/Murali will play a big part and if SL get their batting together, they have a good chance of winning again!

  • Lalindra on August 7, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    We were a utterly disappointed by the way our batsman performed in the 2nd test. Our batting was a complete shadow of the first test. The fact that we cannot figure out is, after so many years of experience, why our batting is not consistent. We are also disappointed at your batting performance as you went into the match as a pure batsman. Now we don't have a batsman who can perform under pressure like the days of Aravinda De Silva. If we look at Australia, they take responsibility in their batting and never fails to put up a decent score. If we don't address this situation now, our cricket will be a total failure. As true fans, we want you'll to make our nation proud.

  • Darshan on August 7, 2008, 11:19 GMT

    Jose...may I remind you that it was Geoffrey Boycott who said Sehwag is talented but without brains. Perhaps you should ask Boycott if he examined Sehwag and came up with his opinion. You dont need to meet someone to call him/her or it arrogant, its just an opinion. Why are you "spewing venom" at Ajantha? Getting close to 20 wickets in a matter of 2 tests is an achievement in itself. In your educated opinion how long do you think it will be before "people understands his bowling"? As for being angry about losing at Galle, India is a good team and everyone expected them to fight back. Sri Lanka seem to win the first test and tail off. It happened recently in West Indies too. So I do not think anyone is angry that a good team fought back to make it a brilliant series.

  • Vishwanath on August 7, 2008, 10:53 GMT

    Davesh_cricket_analyst ... you claim that "SL hasn't done anything extraordinary in the last 20 years" ... but i'd like to remind you that Sri Lanka scored 6/952, including the worlds then largest test partnership ... and it was against India. Furthermore, i think its only been one year since Mahela and Sangakkara put on a 600+ run partnership against South Africa. Clearly Sri Lanka has pulled out some impeccable performances, but you choose to ignore them. To each his own, 'cricket analyst'. I don't think its fair to compare anybody with Tendulkar, who is in a league of his own, because even comparing Gilchrist with Tendulkar makes Gilly look mediocre, but Gilly's a great batsman in his own right and no one would deny it. The same apply's with Mahela. I feel Sri Lanka should win the next test, because rarely does our batting line up collapse that easily. At the same rate, if India's batting line up finds form, the games on. Should be an interesting match for sure. =D

  • Manesha on August 7, 2008, 10:16 GMT

    It's just a matter of time Davesh Sachin Thendulkar may be be the highest run getter during the Aussie tour 2008 but he is sturggeling still with his poor performance.Srilnaknas new thet they had a big task head when they toured to Australian and they did show there charactor in the and Srilnakan fans new the current team has the depth and the will power to match the Aussiz and Srilankasn did try altough they lost. We can talk about stats all day but at the end of the day stats are there because of the these great players are still paying this game.And let me say you were asking about Jayasuriya not being in the test team well it's his personal view!! Jaysuriya retired him self from test and he is now a one day specialist well ask your self who is best Jaysuriya or Jaywarden I'am sure you will say Sanath but these 02 are 02 diffrent stroke players one hit's the ball with power nad with total Diminance where he destroyed Manoj prabahker's carrer in 96 and the other palys with sheer clas

  • Darshan on August 7, 2008, 7:58 GMT

    For those of you who say that Mahela has a poor record abroad look back a little. His side won a test in England and drew the series. Won in Pakistan. Won a test in the West Indies to draw the series. Who knows if Sanga was not given out for 196 when the ball clearly came off the shoulder perhaps he would have had the credit of beating Austrailia too. Oh yea they won in NZ. World Cup finalists, would put them up there in terms of one day cricket. Please also remember that Sri Lanka is playing this series without 3 of their main fast bowlers. Its just that Sri Lanka has a brilliant record at home, which overshadows the good record they have over seas.

    For those of you who said that Mendis will be dealt with by the likes of Dravid and Sachin...I think he answered that with Dravids wicket at the SSC. We all saw how clueless Dravid was.

    For those of you who say Sri Lanka have a poor opening combination. Its obvious the Malinda Warnapura is talented. Vandodt has proved himself with

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