Mahela Jayawardene
Sri Lanka's captain and leading Test run scorer

We're looking to build a strong pace unit

Sri Lanka got the better of the draw in the first Test, but a bowling attack that struggles to take 20 wickets is a worry

Mahela Jayawardene

October 24, 2011

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Chanaka Welegedara celebrates the dismissal of Younis Khan, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd day, October 20, 2011
Instead of relying on one or two key bowlers, Sri Lanka are aiming to have a group of bowlers who will share the burden of taking 20 wickets © AFP

We are still in the series, which is great. When you are playing in the Middle East, where wickets tend to be flat, it is difficult to get results. So if we had gone one-down, we would have been fighting hard to get back into the series. But there is still all to play for.

There are little things we need to work on. We need to take control in the first couple of days of the Test and try to push advantages into winning positions. We will keep trying to improve in those areas to turn the series around.

I think we have to be more consistent in our overall game. We showed a lot of character coming back into the match and saving it, but we shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place. The first couple of days are crucial, and the way we batted on the first day - though obviously there was a bit of help in the wicket for the bowlers - wasn't good. We put ourselves under pressure and had to dig deep to come back.

The credit goes to the Pakistani bowlers as well. They didn't let us score runs. I think we only scored 50 in the first session, and we struggled in the second session as well. When we were put under pressure, we did not handle it well. We lost four wickets in a short span of time - from 112 for 3 to 114 for 7.

I thought Kumar [Sangakkara] batted brilliantly in the second innings. It was one of the best knocks I've seen him play under pressure. He just made sure that he played his part in that situation. And Prasanna [Jayawardene], coming in against the second new ball with five wickets down, was fantastic in the way he approached the situation to get a hundred from No. 7.

We showed a bit of quality to get a lead and put some pressure on Pakistan. They were negative and decided not to chase the target. We ended up being on top of the Test, and hopefully we can take that momentum into the next one.

The bowling is an area we are looking to improve on. You need to get 20 wickets to win a Test match. In the last 10 or 11 Tests we haven't been able to do that, which is why we haven't won any. But to be fair to our bowlers, they bowled on a wicket that got flatter and easier to score on. They bowled their hearts out and did good things at times, but I think we definitely need to create more opportunities and maybe keep varying things a bit. It is a young attack and needs experience.

We have two new guys playing, spearheaded by a left-arm spinner [Rangana Herath] who is probably the most experienced bowler in that unit. He bowls his heart out and does the job for us. The young pace attack will need time to find its feet. You have to be patient with them.

After Murali's departure we still have two or three good spinners in our ranks, with Suraj [Randiv], Rangana and Ajantha [Mendis]. But we need to create a pace unit around these guys, especially if we have to win away from home. We have about six or seven young guys who are coming through the system now. So what we have done is make sure we travel with them, give them the opportunity to learn and get experience. Going forward, we have to create an attack, four, maybe five, bowlers trying to take 20 wickets, who can come and deliver for us, rather than a Murali or a [Chaminda] Vaas taking the burden and taking control of things. That is something we are investing in.

It is a great experience playing in the Middle East, especially Test cricket, which we have never played here. We have a lot of experience playing one-day cricket here, but this is something totally different for a lot of the boys. The heat, the weather - it is challenging. It is a great learning experience even for us senior cricketers who have played for a long time.

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is the country's leading Test run-scorer

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Posted by chandau on (October 26, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

LOL Lord.emsworth : u mention Finn & Tremmlett in the same class as Steyn & Anderson. May be in ur dreams ROFL. England have 2 good bowlers Jimmy and Swann who in helpful conditions do well. Did u watch the 5 match ODI series of late? What happened to the classy English bowlers. CAnnot spin on spin friendly subcontinent wickets when Jadeja & Ashwin bamboozle the Batsmen. LOL Zaheer Khan recently said that Asians are not built to bowl fast and he may have a point. Almost all the guys who come to the scene with 140+ either end up with stress fractures or lose the speed after a couple of seasons. Longivity of VAss may be due to his lack of extra speed. Compare that with Dilhara or Malinga who never really played continuously. There are many more who fell by the wayside like Ishara, Thushara, Jayaprakash, NIssanka at young ages due to various injuries. Those who manage toplay regularly like Kula now bowl MP! Even Angelo aggrevated injuries by bowling. Take Note SLC!

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (October 26, 2011, 3:08 GMT)

Sri Lankan batting has not been great in recent times, but it has been doing the job (drawing matches). Sri Lanka's bowling has been horrible for the most part and I can see why when the country has only 20 million people. Batting is secure for SL future (Matthews, Thirimanne looks good, Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, etc), but I can not see any world class bowlers coming out

Posted by JamesSmithee on (October 25, 2011, 11:14 GMT)

It is almost difficult to take 20 wickets in a batting paradise any bowling side. Mahela trying to hide his inability with bat in a batting paradise by blaming bowlers. Mahela keep in mind that Sanga , Umar scored double hundreds , PJ scored a hundred in this match. It is clearly a batting paradise.

Posted by Sampath_Lokuge on (October 25, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

Mahela you stop talk and let to talk your bat.Other wise worlds best bowlers even cannot depend just 100+ runs in test match.Please stop your nonsense and play well else give a chance to young guy(like chandimal).Please ??????????

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (October 25, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

Thank you Kristy for at least holding with me on the fact that SL is in a losing streak because of the SL top order batters making miserable scores in the first innings and putting the entire team on the backfoot. Understandably certain ex-pats would dearly love to defend our bowlers talking about experience etc, but the sad fact is that SL, except for Vaas, have never being able to unearth a quickie of the calibre of the ones I earlier mentioned (present players) Spin dept? There again only one who really stood out (Murali). With this poor lot of bowlers SL need a super cunning captain like Ranatunge to make best use of whats at his disposal.No offence Mr. Dilshan/Sangakarra/MJ.

Posted by Kristy on (October 25, 2011, 4:13 GMT)

I think Sri Lankan bowlers are doing enough.. its just the batting department.. Batting department has to make big runs then other team get pressure and will be victims for bowlers.., if SL batting makes only 100+ runs in first inning there is no pressure at all for opponent team to bat on.. To get wickets there should be some pressure on batsman's..

Posted by Balumekka on (October 25, 2011, 3:58 GMT)

@ Ben. Know your facts also mate. Mendis was dropped for the 1st match at Galle, due to stupid think tank!. Back pain issue came after the 1st test and before the 2nd test, hence he was not picked for 2nd and 3rd tests.

Posted by Ralp on (October 25, 2011, 3:53 GMT)

SL cannot win test matches (against top sides) with the attack they went in to the first match with. Rangana is a tight bowler but is not a match winner. Only bowler i can think of who is capable of winning a test for SL is Ajantha Mendis. One might say that he has become bit too predictable lately. But he should be able to overcome that with some help. I don't see the point of playing 3 (ordinary) seamers in that wicket either. Dilshan is trying hard to become an all-rounder since he became the captain. But he is nowhere near international standards as a bowler. Can't believe he balled that many overs in the last match. Please play Randiv & Rangana both (if Ajantha is injured) next match. Play only 2 seamers including Kulasekara who can at least generate some swing with the new bowl.

Posted by yasask on (October 25, 2011, 3:32 GMT)

no doubt, sri lanka will win the next test match, so all the haters can can it :)

Posted by goldeneye075 on (October 24, 2011, 23:11 GMT)

"After Murali's departure we still have two or three good spinners in our ranks" but do they have the potential to become "great" or atleast "better" bowlers ? only the time will tell... sure they do need to give more exposure. Actually what we need is a good spin bowler who can spin the ball on any type of wicket like Murali NOT only on spin friendly wickets which any spinner will able to do withour any question. Talking about fast bowlers they need to get some experience, and they do have the potential to do that, no question about that. Seriously @3liteindia ; Mahela do not need to prove he is capable of scoring outside srilanka!! he has already shown it he has scored 2 centuries in Loads ENG in his previous encounters, and to score a 100 in galle in those conditions ... only a class player can do that consistently... he has done that twise... so hats off to Mahela.. I think the other players need to grab the opportunity and score

Posted by playitstraight on (October 24, 2011, 21:32 GMT)

MJ is correct, you have to be patient with the youngsters for some time... they will learn from personal experience. But seriously, MJ should concentrate on his batting, in Eng v SL test series, he did not score a single half-century, in Aus v SL series, he scored only 1 century and 1 half-century, and in the previous test v Pakistan, he scored 28 and 2. He and Sangakkara are the some of the main batsmen for SL, Sanga has already proved that he can play overseas and at home. Now it is time for Mahela to prove it. I know he has played some really great knocks before but past is past....... it is time to move on....... Come on Mahela, everyone is expecting a great performance from u for the 2nd test and I'm sure you won't let any1 down! Good luck SL for the 2nd test!

Posted by rajithwijepura on (October 24, 2011, 21:29 GMT)

@ Zooey_Deschanel - [says "SL will not win a single test here"].... oh my dear friend. Dont be so much over confident of your side by just all out SL for 197 in first inning. Your team just lucky in the first day. I would like to see you here at the end of the series.

Posted by stormy16 on (October 24, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

SL were in the same position in the last two series and when their opponents held the catches lost them both. What we need from Mahela is big runs when it matters most and save a test. Still better runs get the runs in the first innings to give the inexperienced bowling attach some chance.

Posted by TaylorSwift on (October 24, 2011, 19:24 GMT)

@Ronson333 - Were you watching the same game, mate? SL was only better in the fielding department. The Lankans will not take 20 wickets in UAE and hence, will not win a single test here. Mahela & Co. should thank Pakistanis for poor catching and the defensive approach taken by the batsmen on Day 3. In retrospect, the Lankans should have lost by an innings. I respect their batting lineup but without a formidable bowling attack, they will struggle to be competitive in Test cricket. Pakistan, on the other hand, needs to play positive cricket and positive results will follow. As the great Imran Khan once said, "If you play for a draw, you have lost already." This quote might not be a 100% accurate but he said something along those lines.

Posted by yorkslanka on (October 24, 2011, 14:44 GMT)

@ lord emsworth- i think you are correct about our bowlers but it us unfair to compare to those you listed for the simple reason our bowler are mainly new to tgis top level of cricket.all the bowlers you mentioned are experienced bar finn,and tbh I don't rate him at all-he only bowls well at lords because of knowing the wicket well...our bowler will come good but it will take time- as with any team in redevelopment..

Posted by Rakim on (October 24, 2011, 14:17 GMT)

Pakistan did a perfect match with ball and bat, but fielding was poor. There was no negativity in Pak's plan.For them, in second innings, it was like bowling SL 2 times (~25 wickets). On the other hand, I like SL and I hope you make a good team and pace attack for near future :)

Posted by applethief on (October 24, 2011, 13:46 GMT)

I wouldn't take MJ's talk about Pakistan being "negative" all that seriously, he's just being a bit cheeky. A player of MJ's experience knows that this wasn't a T20 match, this was the 5th day of a long, hot Test match with no bowling of fielding restrictions, and the target Pakistan were set was an absurd one to chase. Even if you had Tendulkar & Sehwag coming out, they wouldn't have gone for it, much less Taufeeq & Hafeez.

Posted by Deepfreezed on (October 24, 2011, 13:25 GMT)

Previous comments about Finn, Andersson orTremlett being good at these conditionals are totally uncorroborated. When was the last time they ever performed on a pitch other than English lawns with duke bowls?

Posted by Ben1989 on (October 24, 2011, 12:07 GMT)

@balumeka, get ur facts straight mate, look at the article on mendis for that series & you'll find out he had back complaints which is why they didn't select him, Herath is a great bowler & can't see mendis doing MUCH more damage than him in a test match..@TD exact point I was going to raise, 'Pakistan were negative', what they're meant to chase 170 off 21 overs? thats like playing a t20 but with no field restrictions, what a silly comment..I also don't like his other comment re. 'the way we batted on the first day - though obviously there was a bit of help in the wicket for the bowlers - wasn't good' sounds like an excuse which is sad for such a great batsman, do you know want nothing for the bowlers from day 1 & just be able to make hundreds every match?? there was hardly that much assistance in the wicket, nothing like Eng, Aus or SA pitches.... Pakistan just put SL under pressure with tight bowling & the battling line up folded, don't make excuses MJ, you're better than that...

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (October 24, 2011, 11:04 GMT)

MJ you are quite right about your SL attack that cant take 10 wickets in an innings. Ther arent any SL bowlers today ( at least those we have seen) who can bowl a Test team out. Welegedera & Co. try hard but lack the class of Steyn, Finn, Andersson,Tremlett, Gul, Zaheer Khan etc to name a few. However MJ, you must admit that its also you and the rest of the SL top orders constant failure in the very important first innings that has also cost SL dearly.... The last 3 test series SL has been fighting with their backs against the wall to ward of defeat just because the top order collapses in the first innings.

Posted by ronson333 on (October 24, 2011, 10:57 GMT)

Sri lanka showed real fight and guts! Pakistan didnt have the talent to win!

Posted by ronson333 on (October 24, 2011, 10:53 GMT)

'They were negative and decided not to chase the target. We ended up being on top of the Test, and hopefully we can take that momentum into the next one. '

totally agree , Sri lanka have the upperhand...and they should, they are clearly the better team!

Posted by KP_84 on (October 24, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

"[Pakistan] were negative and decided not to chase the target". They were set 200-odd to win more than 7 runs per over. If you'd set them around 180 in 40 overs, that would have made a good game of it.

Posted by applethief on (October 24, 2011, 6:37 GMT)

I was as disappointed as anyone when the Pakistani fielders squandered their chances, but credit should go to Sri Lanka for not squandering the lifelines they were given. A performance like Sangakkara's will hopefully encourage Pakistan to sharpen up in the field when they see first-hand how punishing the Sri Lankan batsmen can be. The Sri Lankan bowling unit is by no-means unable to take 20 wickets, but will struggle to win them Test matched in the UAE. On the other hand, superb-quality batsmen like Mahela, Dilshan and Sangakkara will ensure that they won't lose many either.

Posted by 3rd_man on (October 24, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

MJ should concentrate on his batting. his job is to get some important runs for Sri lanka. I hate to see him writing all these articles and not doing anything with the bat. Please go and practice in the nets come back to form!

Posted by tanweeralam on (October 24, 2011, 6:08 GMT)

Well the ICC is leaving no stone unturned to kill the art of Fast bowling by making Batsmen friendly rules. How can some one vie to become a fast bowler. The way they are going I can only see of a day where mediocre spinners or at best slow fast bowlers bowling at 11 batsmen.

Posted by intergity on (October 24, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

This is the great vision to have ... This is what Some of Indian administrators , Selectors and Senior players should declare , stand for it no matter what and cause it. We need quality bowlers to win matches .. Where are they ??

Posted by Balumekka on (October 24, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

More than anything else, Sri Lanka suffered from selection blunders and mad batting I think. Remember in the 1st test (the only match we lost in that series) against Aussies at Galle dust bowl, Mendis was dropped. Lyon took 5 wkts in the 1st innings and Mendis surely would have won that match for us. In Eng series the 1st test (only match we lost) was lost due to just mad batting during the last 2 hours. If not, we would have drawn both series!!!!!

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Mahela JayawardeneClose
Mahela Jayawardene Elegant and prolific, Mahela Jayawardene is easily one of the best batsmen around. By a fair margin he is the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka, and on his way to becoming an all-time great. His excellent slip catching, and sharp captaincy - until early in 2009 - made him a big contributor to Sri Lanka's cause. He and Kumar Sangakkara hold the world record for the highest partnership in Tests, 624 for the third wicket, against South Africa in Colombo. Jayawardene is one of cricket's gentlemen: well-mannered, humble, intelligent and articulate.

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