New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day December 14, 2015

Batsmen respected NZ a lot more than expected - Mathews

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Sri Lanka batted for 50.4 overs more than New Zealand, yet lost by 122 runs on the final day in Dunedin © Getty Images

Loose bowling on day one, and cautious batting on days two and three paved Sri Lanka's path to defeat, said Angelo Mathews, after the Test in Dunedin. Sri Lanka had let New Zealand advance at 4.48 runs and over in the first innings, before batting at 2.50 themselves. Overall, Sri Lanka batted for 50.4 overs more than New Zealand, yet lost by 122 runs.

All three frontline seamers had gone at more than four runs an over in the first innings, where only Rangana Herath maintained an economy rate of less than three. "I was really disappointed the way we bowled and batted in the first innings," Mathews said. "On that wicket, if there was anything it, it in was in the first couple of sessions. After winning the toss on a green wicket, I expected a lot more from the bowlers.

"We bowled a lot of loose stuff. To a batting line up like New Zealand, you can't really bowl loose stuff because they are going to capitalise. We lost our way in the first couple of sessions and we let them off the hook. We had to bowl really well to get them on the back foot. We had to take a few wickets early, which we didn't."

While each of New Zealand's batsmen who crossed 25 batted at a strike rate of at least 66, Sri Lanka's half-centurions struck at less than 45. New Zealand hit 64 boundaries in the 96.1 overs they faced. Sri Lanka struck half that amount from 117.1 overs.

"We were also way to cautious in our first-innings batting," Mathews said. "We couldn't really do much batting in the second innings, but in the first innings we respected them a lot more than expected, which was very disappointing from the batters. As I always say - and not to take away from the New Zealand - but the bowlers they are also human, and we have to capitalise."

Sri Lanka batted through until the second new ball in both innings, but scored fewer than 300 on either occasion. Three half centuries were hit from them in all - two of those coming from Dinesh Chandimal.

"We definitely could have done better as a batting unit," Mathews said. "We need to score runs to give our bowlers a chance. Scoring 290-300 is not enough on these tracks. Once the seam movement goes off in the first couple of sessions it gets really good for batting. The batters have to score big to keep us in the game."

Mathews and Chandimal had been together overnight, with Sri Lanka resuming at three wickets down on the final morning. Both batsmen were dismissed offering no shot, after a 56-run stand.

"Last evening, I thought me and Dinesh had to dig in deep to save or win the game," Mathews said. "Either way we had to stay on the wicket till lunch. Unfortunately we lost both our wickets within two or three overs of each other. That really had a big impact on the game."

Mathews said the tailenders' defiance was among the positives Sri Lanka will take out of the match, and also lauded the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera. Playing his first overseas Test, Chameera was comfortably the quickest bowler across both teams in Dunedin, but having had an economy rate of 5.6 in the first innings and 4.35 in the second, he was also the most expensive.

"He's very raw but he runs in on any deck and he bowls fast," Mathews said. "That's all he knows, and what we expect from him. That's what I told him to do as well. Not think about line and length too much - just try and bowl fast. He's a tremendous weapon in the bowling line-up because he can upset the rhythm of a batsman. We are trying to use him in a wise way. He's very young still, he'll definitely learn more as time goes by."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anil Nanayakkara on December 16, 2015, 16:56 GMT

    Its not batting for long periods of time, but batting in your normal style. The captain and the coaches need to get the players to relax and play their normal game not change their game which is sure to fail. On the other side, the bowlers need to disrupt the comfort zone of the batsmen. Guptil, McCullum and Williamson like to score quickly. So to take them out of the comfort zone, you need to bowl accurately for the most part and only try to tease them with balls in their weak areas when they least expect it.

  • Chatty on December 16, 2015, 6:26 GMT

    I agree about Kithruwan. He does not seem to have the technique to stay long, thus the slap bang approach. Sound defense is critical. As I said before, I wish SL lost because of their "approach" to this game. I think it is much simpler than that. NZ are clearly the better side in seaming conditions. SL will have to play exceptionally well to beat NZ at home, and that means many players contributing top performances. But above all, it means Mathews hitting big hundreds. There is no other way. If Angie and especially the coach think that this is just about 'approach', I think they are delusional. I have no problem with Angie thinking that way - that could be just pure confidence in his ability. But if the coach shares this view, then we are in trouble!

  • Rukshan Dharmadasa on December 16, 2015, 5:08 GMT

    Sri Lanka lacks a pure technically correct batsman in the middle order for tests. what are the selectors thinking by selecting kithruwan? He may be good for ODI's not tests.

  • Chatty on December 15, 2015, 23:02 GMT

    I am not sure whether it was over cautious approach that resulted in this loss. I think the bowlers certainly were wayward and did not control the first innings scoring. NZ bowled well and I think that was reflected in the slower batting by SL. Also, our top order is as green as it can be. I think Jayasundara should be dropped and Kaushal Silva brought back (either as opener or one down). Angie needs to make big runs. He was not making big runs in NZ last year and he is not this year either. He needs to turn things around, pronto. Without him, the lower middle order cannot manage on their own.

  • Andrew on December 15, 2015, 21:43 GMT

    @SevereCritic: agree with you.... negativity is Marhew's speciality :D Another typical example for it was, wasting initial 5 overs or so of shiny brand-new ball, in NZ- 2nd inning, with his < 120 kph own bowling, putting aside the available option of 135+ kph Pacemen Chameera (SL's main weapon in seam arttack) backed by an attacking field of 3 slips & a gully.

    One thing was convinced to many who watched the Test (including the commentators); Skipper BMac is in a different league way above, compared to skipper Mathews galvanized with negativity.

    Hamilton will seal the fate of this series as well. SL fans got to live with reality.

  • Anil Nanayakkara on December 15, 2015, 19:20 GMT

    The problem is that realistic goals are not being set. Mathews and Chandimal were batting as if they had to bat out the entire day. They did fine the first hour because they had a goal to survive the first hour. Then they thought of batting till the end of day when they should have set the goal to bat one more hour. In test cricket the targets have to be set every hour to ensure that you can play your normal game. That is why you have the drinks break - to get the right measages from the coaches.

  • sriyantha on December 15, 2015, 17:11 GMT

    Cmbo-Internantionl: you are right,Chandimal had faced indifferent treatment from selectors & Mathews, compared to Thirimanne. Chandimal is a much better keeper than useless Kusal perera, yet the gloves were handed over to Perera, quoting Chandi's batting order position at N04 as an excuse. Didn't he do well in both innings Vs Nz doing both jobs equally good? The obvious reason for that switch is making inconsistent failure Kusal Perera's spot more secure!

    Mathews is a negative minded skipper with a diffencive approach to everything including his captaincy. He always prefers his buddies like Thisara perera, Dimuth as seen during WC debacle. On the otherhand doesn't like senior guys like Tharanga to be in the scene, just 2 yrs older to him but with much more years of experience, international runs, Tons & fifty pluses than him & potentially better prospect for leadership like Chandimal. This seems to be the story behind coupled with current selectors backing it. SL is the victim!

  • amit on December 15, 2015, 7:02 GMT

    sumo_slammer: That is what I am telling.. He is too good a bowler not to bowl that much. Captaincy is bound to affect him. Any other captain would take more out of him. With Seniors gone, I am afraid that we will see Mathews further decline with captaincy burden.

  • Blabby on December 15, 2015, 6:31 GMT

    It will be interesting if we have a series with BD. Equal strength teams will fight for their pride.

  • Cricinfouser on December 15, 2015, 3:25 GMT

    Mathews is low in the allrounder ranking in tests becauas he barely bowls himself.Btw, He is ranked very highly in the test BATSMEN rankings.Go check that out first.

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