India not as aggressive as a No.1 team should be
The most talked-about factor of the second Test was the pitch. The last one-and-a-half days may have made for dull cricket, but it was probably a better pitch than the ones we have played the last two to three SSC Tests on. It had more bounce, and the previous pitches kept getting slower and slower, and by the fourth and fifth day, the ball wouldn't even get up to your knees. The spinner didn't have anything, but this pitch gave the spinners some bounce.
But it just was a good wicket to bat on. You needed extraordinary bowlers to take wickets on this pitch. Probably that's why there weren't many wickets. At the same time both sides had quality batsmen, you had to take that into account as well. You shouldn't blame the pitch too much.
We probably need a bit more sporting pitches. One way of doing is to probably leave a bit of more moisture on, and not put those sponges on everyday. That's something they can think of, especially looking at the SSC pitch, so that it's not too dry: just leave a bit of moisture from the morning covers. I was happy there was bounce in that wicket, which we never had. We just need a bit more liveliness. If we can manage that, given the current bounce and pace, the SSC could become one of the best pitches in the island.
We shouldn't forget that we had still managed to exert a lot of pressure on India. Until we dropped Sachin Tendulkar, a follow-on was a distinct possibility. But Prasanna Jayawardene is probably the best wicketkeeper going around. Anybody can make a mistake. Unfortunately it was Tendulkar, and he made us pay for it.
He had Suresh Raina with him for company. We were all surprised he was not in the line-up earlier. Raina is a wonderful player. He now knows the feeling of a scoring a Test hundred. It took me three or four matches to get a hundred, and it is important to know that feeling. You know that you are good enough. Then you get hungry for that feeling all the time.
Overall we were quite happy with the way we played the Test. We were dominant, our bowlers bowled well in tough conditions, and created more opportunities than India's line-up did. We put a lot of pressure on their top order. We are quite happy that we were very consistent with bat and ball. We had a few fielding lapses, but I think we can take lot of heart from this.
We also had to go a bit easy on our bowling. Lasith Malinga wasn't a 100%, and Chanaka Welegedara wasn't in the greatest of rhythm. Even though he dismissed Virender Sehwag twice in Galle, we decided a week's work with the coaching staff will get his rhythm back. At the same time, playing two Tests in 12 days is not easy.
We are looking forward to the next match. We know we are playing the No. 1 team in the world, we are 1-0 up, and we know they didn't create any opportunities in the second Test. I was disappointed. I thought they might go for an early declaration and make a game out of it, which they didn't. I felt that they are not as aggressive as a No. 1 team should be. Hopefully we can take the upper hand and get a good start to the third Test.
The pitch at the P Sara Oval will have a bit more movement. It's usually livelier than the SSC. It will probably have more spin as well, on the fourth and fifth day of the Test. It will get slower towards the latter part, but it will be a result-orientated wicket.
A result is exactly what we are looking at, even though we now know we will not become No. 1 even if we win the series 2-0. It's not a big issue. Mentally you cannot go in that frame of mind of just protecting your lead, especially against a side like India. It's important that we play aggressive cricket. Even in the previous Test we went for the kill. The only way you can play good cricket is when you bowl the first ball or face the first ball, you know you are going for a win. As long as we know we have beaten a No. 1 team in a Test series, it would be a feather in our cap.
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer