Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 4th day January 19, 2014

Sri Lanka tread too far down the conservative route

While conservatism has worked for Sri Lanka in this series, their dour defensive play on day four in Sharjah neither decisively put defeat beyond them nor, it would appear, did much to revive the flagging interest in Test cricket
41

A few days ago, in the Emirate just west of Sharjah, a group of cricket administrators unveiled a proposal that would put the Test-match future of Sri Lanka and Pakistan in serious doubt. On day four, in a series already ruled by attrition, the teams produced the least watchable cricket of the tour. The comatose third session, in which Sri Lanka progressed at 1.36 runs an over, was little more than a staring contest featuring 13 grown men. There are pharmaceutical ads that are more compelling.

The few hundred fans that had come to the stadium stared too, only their eyes had long since glazed over. If any new followers of the sport tuned in, they might wonder why Tests between these sides deserve saving.

Sri Lanka were almost certainly the more passive of the teams, and though the players will contend that abrasive battles are an inextricable part of Test cricket, they can hardly claim it is the type of play that will stir the flagging interest in the format at home. They will also hold that Sri Lanka's first away series win since 2000 is much better reward for their fans than risky, aggressive cricket. If the sport is reduced to its scorelines, then perhaps that is correct. But cricket has always been about the journey, not just the destination, as laid out by the two best Tests of 2013, in Auckland and Johannesburg, both of which ended in draws.

Before the Test, captain Angelo Mathews had said this: "We need to play positive cricket once again, because we will try to win it 2-0. We are certainly not going for a draw here, because it sends a negative message to the whole team."

To single Mathews out for hypocrisy here would be grossly unfair, primarily because press conferences with almost any athlete have become an exercise in professional pretense. Even the most dour batsman will speak of "being positive" - a ubiquitous cricketing phrase - because anything less conveys weakness. But the fact is, no one likes to lose. When you're ahead in the series, why bother with winning the match? Sri Lanka have been in control at the close of almost every day since the middle of the first Test, and the prospect of finishing the series on even terms might appear madness to those in the dressing room.

Moreover, an inexperienced Sri Lanka side have largely gained ground by playing conservatively and respecting the limits of their ability. The fast bowlers have not attempted magic balls, nor sought to blast oppositions out. The spinners have found safety in the quicker, flatter deliveries, hoping to build pressure with dot balls. In the Dubai Test that Sri Lanka won, they scored at less than three an over in both innings, effectively challenging Pakistan to change the tempo of the series, if they wish to level it.

But on Sunday, Sri Lanka discovered the perils of treading too far down the conservative route. An uncompromising focus on defence with the bat allowed Pakistan's bowlers the opportunity to settle happily into their work, even though the onus was on them to take quick wickets, having finished their first innings with an 87-run deficit and only five full sessions to play. Three of Sri Lanka's five dismissed batsmen fell offering defensive shots, having earned poor dividends for their time at the crease. Kaushal Silva and Dinesh Chandimal fell to very good balls, but that is hardly unexpected at Test level; if batsmen are to receive unplayable deliveries, it would seem wise to score off the balls that are not so menacing.

Mahela Jayawardene stalled for 15 deliveries on 46, allowing Saeed Ajmal to put men around the bat, as he constructed what was among his most threatening spells in the series. Flat pitches in India recently prompted MS Dhoni to compare bowlers to bowling machines, but to Ajmal, Jayawardene and Mathews - whose 38-run stand spanned 176 deliveries - might have seemed the batting equivalent. Predictably, he got one to turn a little more than Jayawardene anticipated, and ensured Pakistan's slim hopes of winning the Test survived into the fifth day.

It is excusable, perhaps even commendable, that Sri Lanka have taken stock of their personnel and embraced conservatism in the series, largely to good effect. Their gains in the series may even suggest it is a strategy that suits them until key men develop the ability to play attacking, intimidating cricket. But in defending to the point of alienating fans, they have also weakened their grip on the match.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 20, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Watching Aravinda or Jayasuria bat was a privilege. Aravinda even in twilight of his career, took the charge to Australian pace battery and batted like the maestro he was. An absolutely amazing artist, especially against fast men. Jayasuria was a hammerhead who would unleash from the very first ball of the game. Those were the times when Sri Lanka played an aggressive, enthralling and imposing brand of cricket. I believe they lost that aggression after Aravinda and Jayasuria left. Sanga is a good player (I prefer front foot players and I accept my bias) but I do not like Mahela's game. I mean no disrespect to Mahela. He has served his country well. But I believe Sri Lanka needs to introduce some more enthralling and match winning players like Jayasure and Aravinda (I do admit they are legends and very difficult to replace but their batting style should be modeled rather than Mahel's).

  • imtiazjaleel on January 20, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Strategies should be positive not negative and defensive, when you have the chance to win the match. the first test between SA and India is a very good example how to play cricket. I really appreciate the way SA approached the second innings, they could easily have gone defensive, but they attacked from the word go. Unfortunately, they could not win because of the run out of Duplessis. If Mathews have played positively the score would have been 50 runs more than what it is now. in the context of the game situation 50 runs would have made a huge difference at the end. The biggest problem with Test cricket is the DRAW. There should be some kind of formula to get a result out of the match so that the teams don't apply negative tactics to save the match instead every team will try to win the match.

  • yohandf on January 20, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Andrew , you have come up with a fine piece . despite being sri lankan you honestly annalyse situation .While defensiveness of Sri Lankan team can be understood , this sort of ugly display cant be overlooked . SL can still draw this game or even give a shot at victory with zero risk , had they been bit more applied themselves . after such a boring cricket there are not yet out of danger of being defeated coz they scored slowly . instead they got fifty more runs by now they could take defeat out of the way now and push for a win which is good for teams attitude , reputation too . this sort of cricket will easily let others to label us as boring negative test cricket playing nation . it will negatively affect other teams to invite SL for tours specially Eng , Aus , SA ( as FTP is no more under ICC control). eventually SL will be an ordinary team for longer period - very sadly by a die hard SL fan .

  • ooper_cut on January 21, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Where are the exciting players from SL ? Guys like Kalu, Jaya, Aravinda, Mahanama ? Guys who take the attack to the opposition ? Bowlers like Vaas, Fernando, Murali ? Why isn't Thirumane playing ?

  • on January 20, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    I never watched like this series...boring boring...

  • imtiazjaleel on January 20, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    I remember the series of Australia and India under the captaincy of Azharuddin. The Adeliade test, India could easily have drawn the test, but Azhar was very positive and almost got the victory and ultimately India lost but still i believe there should be an attempt to win the game. One more example i will give India and Pakistan match. it was played in India i dont remember exactly when and where, but in that match Yunus Khan scored double hundred and India played very defensively on the final day and lost the match.

  • shanazpk on January 20, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    from the 1st ball of this test sl were looking for a draw..not wise for test cricket MR. ANGELO MATHEWS

  • Fauzer on January 20, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    At lunch on the last day of the last test, all results are still possible, 2-0, 1-0, or 1-1. so what is the fuss? I don't see why SL should make it any easier for Pak. If they want it bad enough, let them make 302 in just under 60 overs or perish trying. There I think SL and Mathews have read the game to near perfection on almost every day of this series

  • gul_khan on January 20, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    I'm a Pakistan fan and it is not the responsibility of the Sri Lankan team to make the game competitive. They had every right to bat Pakistan out of the game. Infact, I was surprised they declared their first innings. Any team one-up in a series with one to go would bat for as long as possible. It's for the opposition, in this case Pakistan, to take twenty wickets. Any criticism should be levelled at the Pak team and Sri Lanka should only receive praise for the way they have played.'No more tests please. Let India, Australia and England play only. Who gives a flying kiss to this type of cricket.' - well whomever you are (you're hiding behind an anonymous facebook entry), test cricket is what it is all about. I've never known a cricketer when they are young to say - "i want to grow up to play ODIs for my country", they nearly all say test cricket. By your own standards, Aus would not have been allowed to play in the early 1980s and Eng and Ind not allowed to play between 1987 and 1992

  • Udendra on January 20, 2014, 8:23 GMT

    This author has got it wrong. a strategy is a strategy, whether it's positive or negative!

  • on January 20, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Watching Aravinda or Jayasuria bat was a privilege. Aravinda even in twilight of his career, took the charge to Australian pace battery and batted like the maestro he was. An absolutely amazing artist, especially against fast men. Jayasuria was a hammerhead who would unleash from the very first ball of the game. Those were the times when Sri Lanka played an aggressive, enthralling and imposing brand of cricket. I believe they lost that aggression after Aravinda and Jayasuria left. Sanga is a good player (I prefer front foot players and I accept my bias) but I do not like Mahela's game. I mean no disrespect to Mahela. He has served his country well. But I believe Sri Lanka needs to introduce some more enthralling and match winning players like Jayasure and Aravinda (I do admit they are legends and very difficult to replace but their batting style should be modeled rather than Mahel's).

  • imtiazjaleel on January 20, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Strategies should be positive not negative and defensive, when you have the chance to win the match. the first test between SA and India is a very good example how to play cricket. I really appreciate the way SA approached the second innings, they could easily have gone defensive, but they attacked from the word go. Unfortunately, they could not win because of the run out of Duplessis. If Mathews have played positively the score would have been 50 runs more than what it is now. in the context of the game situation 50 runs would have made a huge difference at the end. The biggest problem with Test cricket is the DRAW. There should be some kind of formula to get a result out of the match so that the teams don't apply negative tactics to save the match instead every team will try to win the match.

  • yohandf on January 20, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Andrew , you have come up with a fine piece . despite being sri lankan you honestly annalyse situation .While defensiveness of Sri Lankan team can be understood , this sort of ugly display cant be overlooked . SL can still draw this game or even give a shot at victory with zero risk , had they been bit more applied themselves . after such a boring cricket there are not yet out of danger of being defeated coz they scored slowly . instead they got fifty more runs by now they could take defeat out of the way now and push for a win which is good for teams attitude , reputation too . this sort of cricket will easily let others to label us as boring negative test cricket playing nation . it will negatively affect other teams to invite SL for tours specially Eng , Aus , SA ( as FTP is no more under ICC control). eventually SL will be an ordinary team for longer period - very sadly by a die hard SL fan .

  • ooper_cut on January 21, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Where are the exciting players from SL ? Guys like Kalu, Jaya, Aravinda, Mahanama ? Guys who take the attack to the opposition ? Bowlers like Vaas, Fernando, Murali ? Why isn't Thirumane playing ?

  • on January 20, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    I never watched like this series...boring boring...

  • imtiazjaleel on January 20, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    I remember the series of Australia and India under the captaincy of Azharuddin. The Adeliade test, India could easily have drawn the test, but Azhar was very positive and almost got the victory and ultimately India lost but still i believe there should be an attempt to win the game. One more example i will give India and Pakistan match. it was played in India i dont remember exactly when and where, but in that match Yunus Khan scored double hundred and India played very defensively on the final day and lost the match.

  • shanazpk on January 20, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    from the 1st ball of this test sl were looking for a draw..not wise for test cricket MR. ANGELO MATHEWS

  • Fauzer on January 20, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    At lunch on the last day of the last test, all results are still possible, 2-0, 1-0, or 1-1. so what is the fuss? I don't see why SL should make it any easier for Pak. If they want it bad enough, let them make 302 in just under 60 overs or perish trying. There I think SL and Mathews have read the game to near perfection on almost every day of this series

  • gul_khan on January 20, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    I'm a Pakistan fan and it is not the responsibility of the Sri Lankan team to make the game competitive. They had every right to bat Pakistan out of the game. Infact, I was surprised they declared their first innings. Any team one-up in a series with one to go would bat for as long as possible. It's for the opposition, in this case Pakistan, to take twenty wickets. Any criticism should be levelled at the Pak team and Sri Lanka should only receive praise for the way they have played.'No more tests please. Let India, Australia and England play only. Who gives a flying kiss to this type of cricket.' - well whomever you are (you're hiding behind an anonymous facebook entry), test cricket is what it is all about. I've never known a cricketer when they are young to say - "i want to grow up to play ODIs for my country", they nearly all say test cricket. By your own standards, Aus would not have been allowed to play in the early 1980s and Eng and Ind not allowed to play between 1987 and 1992

  • Udendra on January 20, 2014, 8:23 GMT

    This author has got it wrong. a strategy is a strategy, whether it's positive or negative!

  • on January 20, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    No more tests please. Let India, Australia and England play only. Who gives a flying kiss to this type of cricket. It shouldn't even be broadcasted or reported. And, it will be best for Pakistan never to play Srilanka in a test.

  • on January 20, 2014, 5:19 GMT

    @Kasun... SL spinners will have a huge impact if you post some total. If your skip scores 14 runs in 99 balls I dont see that strategy you talk off being implemented. This is disgrace to test cricket, and such negativity should not prevail in an already dwindling sport.

  • rshan on January 20, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    We should understand that there is much at stake now to winning a test series. In the past the game was played in good spirit and winning or losing didn't matter. The players were hardly paid a salary when representing their country and no one bothered about rankings. Now the game has been heavily commercialized, players well paid, and ICC ranking plays an important part to rake benefits. So it's all about winning and therefore other interest become secondary. I bet even Pakistan would have adopted the same approach if they were one up in the series and in Sri Lanka's position.

  • SL_Boy on January 20, 2014, 5:12 GMT

    looks like it is really hard to bat, that is the main reason they are so slow, you guys should know first 3 try to attacked but did not work, now they dont want to give Pak two many overs ... still 90 overs left in the match. if we can hold 30 more overs will get around 75 runs ... and Pak have to chase 300 in 60 overs. SL does not care about win in this match they are going for series win.

  • Rashen on January 20, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    And what was the response when Pakistan had to chase 180+ runs with 20+ overs ? Did they go for it ? or just let it go ? So have some respect guys ... After all its all about statistics .. though we represented 4 world cup finals we ended only being the runners up.. . thats better than being the champions .. yet can we say we were champions at least once ? So we have to respect statistics .. Sorry to say this :-)

  • randikaayya on January 20, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    I for one loved the battle of attrition throughout the test series. I was driven out of watching cricket owing the to the T20 overkill and this series got me hooked again. Battle of wits out their and still all 3 results possible

  • on January 20, 2014, 4:39 GMT

    I think this article is a testimony to how the mentality of cricket fans changed over the years. I am not blaming people on this, but I think it is a different strategy employed by the Sri Lankan skipper. At first I was also of the view that Angelo should have been a bit more attacking specially in the last part of the Pakistani innings. He clearly gave too much respect to Misbah's batting. But at the same time we have to remember, this team is a work in progress. This is a young team trying to find their feet in the international cricket. And it is highly commendable that Sri Lankans have batsmen who can grind an opposition. Many teams do not have that luxury. For example Pakistan just don't have batsmen who can do that except for Misbah and Younus. That is why they complaint a lot. The way I look at it, by playing this type of cricket, Sri Lankans have delayed the game long enough for their spinners to have a huge effect in the last innings, and they will push for the win by that.

  • on January 20, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    Sri Lanka could have won the first test and this third test if not for ultra-defensive tactics. Cricket is not merely a numbers game of wins, draws and losses. The prospective spectators in the ME were the wiser, judging by the large number of vacant stadium seats. I, an avid fan of test cricket since 1952, wouldn't watch this even on TV for free.

  • on January 20, 2014, 4:31 GMT

    By being overly defensive, they have put them selves in danger of loosing too. Now by going at 1.87 SL are only 220 ahead with only 5 wickets left. If Pakistan were to claim the remaining wickets for say 30-40, they're in with a real shot of winning this. However, if Sri Lankan batters had played their natural games, they may have finished say 300 ahead with 2 wickets left at the end of day 4 -- I would think that's what they should've aimed for!

    I am Sri Lankan, but through out this series i've opted to watch the Ashes, and other cricket matches going on..

  • on January 20, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    Completely agree with A F Fernando. Who wants to travel, pay and then watch a cricket match where a team crawls at 1.36 rpo just so they can draw and claim a series win. Sri Lanka, has been known, even before their test status, for their entertaining cricket. For many a day in this test series they have been anything but. After all, cricket is only a game and people come to watch it for its entertainment value. I doubt on their future tours to England, Australia, WI etc if people will bother to pay high gate prices just to have a look at the SL cricketers. Australians and WIs, certainly wouldn't bother, which in turn would have a detrimental effect on SL reputation as a team capable of entertainment. I can remember many test matches in the past where captains have risked their probable victories taking a gable, but have earned respect and love for themselves and the game. Gary Sobers in WI was one. As Fernando rightly says: what matters is the journey not the destination.Shame!

  • on January 20, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    If Pakistan can ristrict SL for less than 260 lead, and if they get 75 - 80 overs, they should go for it. Let the Sri Lankans learn a bitter lesson for being too negative..

  • Bdcricketdebator on January 20, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    So far srilanka is very possitive in this test.i bealeve those who r saying srilanka is not possitive,i think they dont know anything about test.in test cricket u have to have strong defensive technique nd should have the ability to put bad balls away.thats what srilanka hav done so far.please do worry about sri.

  • thaikkathameed on January 20, 2014, 4:00 GMT

    This match is one of the boring test ever played on earth. Sri Lankans are really a pain. At this rate it is better for them not play test matches at all. But I think Sri Lanka want to win an away series for the first time in their history, therefore, they are just playing for a draw, thereby killing the interest in test cricket.

  • InternationalCricketFollower on January 20, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    They are not being conservative. Safety first! Sri Lanka has collapsed and lost so many times after Murali retired. We are rebuilding. So what if the run rate is below 3? I have not seen our batting and bowling this solid in a long time after Murali. Go Mathews!

  • on January 20, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    Very succinctly put Andrew. Am in total agreement with you. Our batsmen played far too defensively on a pitch which held no menace and have handed over the advantage to Pakistan. Matthews scoring 14 runs off 99 balls is a farce and Mahela was no better. If they had batted normally without taking too many risks, they should have scored around 200 after occupying the crease for 71 overs, which would have given us a lead of 300 by now. In fact, with a cushion of an 87 run first innings lead we should have batted a bit more positively in the second innings and targeted to score 240 and declare overnight so that we gave our bowlers a day to bowl the opposition out chasing a challenging target of 315 on the fifth day.

  • Rashen on January 20, 2014, 3:29 GMT

    Well can you all rem , what Misbah or Younis said when we played last time in UAE ? At that point Pak was ahead of the series 1-0, and on the last day they were even worse than this... So Pak fans , just dnt blame us , winning the series is more worth than trying to win a game ... And you need to understand we havent won a series outside Sri Lanka for a long time ...

  • MH19 on January 20, 2014, 2:04 GMT

    We all blame but as Sanga said day 4 & 5 will be tough to bat on so in test cricket mental strenghth and determination is more important. SL leads by 200 runs and shoudl get another 75-100 before lunch and should really test pakistan if they will go for a win or a draw.

  • SLMaster on January 20, 2014, 1:53 GMT

    Positive doesn't mean scoring fast. If PAK are positive why they aren't running through the batting line fast. Everyone likes to win, but, it is not that easy. It is not easy to bat and it is not easy to bowl to get SL out either.

  • SLMaster on January 20, 2014, 1:48 GMT

    If SL is negative and PAK is positive, PAK should be ahead of the game. Because being positive always win. But, then why PAK is always behind....SL have slim chance of winning this match as well whilst PAK have no chance.

  • ThatsJustCricket on January 20, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    Playing positively does not mean you get reckless and start slogging like T20s. One can very keep knocking singles and get the scoreboard moving. On a fourth day pitch, you bound to get the occasional delivery to misbehave and that might very well end your innings. If all you are doing is defending and not scoring runs then at the end you have nothing to show for it. Had the SL batsmen played with a bit more urgency to score the lead would have already been out of reach for PAK. By playing ultra defensive SL haven't done any favours to themselves.

  • kasifdotinfo on January 20, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    The Sri Lankan cricket team is not an ad agency. It cannot and should not be held responsible for marketing Test cricket. In my opinion, no entity should be; Test cricket should either be enjoyed as a pure sporting competition, or ignored in favor of T20 or other forms of entertainment.

    The last point this article makes - that Sri Lanka's approach has been detrimental to their standing in this match and series - is questionable, given that it has yielded a fairly healthy lead of 220 with 5 wickets in hand, including an in-form batsmen, going into the final day. Even if the remaining wickets are lost for 50 runs within the first session, a chase of 250 in two sessions (or just over) will be a very tough ask. Taking additional risks in a stronger effort to win the match or entertain would likely have put a series win in jeopardy.

    Best let the Sri Lankans focus on and enjoy winning a Test series for once, without any unnecessary distractions or detractions, I say.

  • on January 19, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Commentators need a resalt for every matches.But as a captain mathews should be considered about rare series win.Mathews should not run behind a resalt.win or lost will be results.But sri lankan need a win or draw.great work..Master plan...weldone mathews...

  • InsideHedge on January 19, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    I didn't realise there were even a few hundred fans in the stadium, it looks truly pathetic. An exciting sporting contest needs to be played to full houses but with the exception of Tests in England, and Ashes contests in Oz, Tests are played in front of paltry spectators all over the world. There's more fans at an international darts events.

    It's a major problem in Asia where 99.99% of fans simply don't care about Tests. The level of ignorance shown by these fans is astonishing, you'll often hear conversations from so called experts who can't distinguish between Tests and ODIs, they can't fathom why players can't score a ton off 90 balls in a Test when they saw that same player doing the same in coloured clothing a few days earlier.

    Short attention spans, digital age, stupid smart phones, commercials every 6 mins, this the age that today's kids are growing up in. I can't see them attending even one day of a 5 day Test Match.

  • Rocketman1 on January 19, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    The comments here would be much different if they had gone for quick runs and collapsed. Defensive and cautious cricket is labelled negative. A pursuit of fast runs would be labelled as T20 junies and unfit for pure Test cricket. The only solution is to play as best suits the cause and the cause is to win the series.

  • Beyond-the-Boundary on January 19, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    One test does not make a series.

    Do not rush to judgement. Sri Lanka could have been looking at a 0-3 series loss and only luck and grit got them the escape in the first test and gain that slight edge needed. So to be now in a winning position is not bad at all.

    In this game, it was up to Sanga and Mahela to set up the long innings. Neither one succeeded. The conditions cannot be easy. Besides, Chandimal is out of his depth, or batting too far down the order. In other words, there are problems with Sri Lanka's batting, the caution is understandable.

    Test cricket is one of mind games, and until the last over is bowled we should try to appreciate what is going on. If Pakistan attempts to chase down 275 in two and half sessions, it will be electric...

  • SL_Boy on January 19, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    I think SL are doing really good (this is the master plan), they dont care about wining the match ... it is all about wining the series ... so SL play for another 20 overs tomorrow and we can check PAK batting ...

  • on January 19, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    its understandable when you consider that this is going to be 1st away series win other than ban- zim in 14 years. there is little difference though. with positive cricket some people immediately take it as slogging or t20. its not like that. instead of scoring 38 in 22 overs, they can easily score 60 odd without taking risk. & lead would have been near 300. with the approach they had, it could have gone worse for them. few fell playing defensive. mathewd dropped on a nothing shot.

    thats why teams like pak , Sl will always stay lower in ranking because this approach can not work all the time.

    teams do that type of thing in 4 th innings by not going for chase. but SL doing it from day 1. and in 3 rd innings.

    anyway its working for them so have to give credit to them. even leg side bowling plan worked well.

    they might also win 2-0 so win always hides weaknesses. and 1-0 series win will do that. they had chance to go up in rankings . still has it though.

    smartly played.

  • gahapanmachan on January 19, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    How else SL should play their first series in 12 months and away to a seasoned opponent who has played plenty here. Test cricket in SL will die faster if they go kamikaze and lose. No sensible test playing nation I know will do different in a similar pitch & situation.

  • Mervo on January 19, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    Pakistan were even more conservative. If SL win it is because they showed a bit more initiative throughout this match. I am most disappointed in Pakistan but overall this is terrible cricket to endure - is the right word.

  • Muzahir1 on January 19, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka is treading on the right line considering only to manage one more session and bat out effectively on this strategy as already the series is already on the bag and their hardwork will be of no use unless they play it out for a draw. The pitch though slow does not show any sign of deterioration so the best way to put beyond the reach of the pak. Welldone Sri Lanka and keep it up.

  • on January 19, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    It is very conservative approach adopted by Sri Lankan players. Mathews desperated the fans that were expecting a good positive show of cricket when you are already leading the series. It seems that Sri Lankan are more pressurized than Pakistanis. I was not expecting this from player like Mahela. So, please dont make room for ICC to plan for two tier system and play positive cricket not boring.

  • on January 19, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    It is very conservative approach adopted by Sri Lankan players. Mathews desperated the fans that were expecting a good positive show of cricket when you are already leading the series. It seems that Sri Lankan are more pressurized than Pakistanis. I was not expecting this from player like Mahela. So, please dont make room for ICC to plan for two tier system and play positive cricket not boring.

  • Muzahir1 on January 19, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    I think Sri Lanka is treading on the right line considering only to manage one more session and bat out effectively on this strategy as already the series is already on the bag and their hardwork will be of no use unless they play it out for a draw. The pitch though slow does not show any sign of deterioration so the best way to put beyond the reach of the pak. Welldone Sri Lanka and keep it up.

  • Mervo on January 19, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    Pakistan were even more conservative. If SL win it is because they showed a bit more initiative throughout this match. I am most disappointed in Pakistan but overall this is terrible cricket to endure - is the right word.

  • gahapanmachan on January 19, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    How else SL should play their first series in 12 months and away to a seasoned opponent who has played plenty here. Test cricket in SL will die faster if they go kamikaze and lose. No sensible test playing nation I know will do different in a similar pitch & situation.

  • on January 19, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    its understandable when you consider that this is going to be 1st away series win other than ban- zim in 14 years. there is little difference though. with positive cricket some people immediately take it as slogging or t20. its not like that. instead of scoring 38 in 22 overs, they can easily score 60 odd without taking risk. & lead would have been near 300. with the approach they had, it could have gone worse for them. few fell playing defensive. mathewd dropped on a nothing shot.

    thats why teams like pak , Sl will always stay lower in ranking because this approach can not work all the time.

    teams do that type of thing in 4 th innings by not going for chase. but SL doing it from day 1. and in 3 rd innings.

    anyway its working for them so have to give credit to them. even leg side bowling plan worked well.

    they might also win 2-0 so win always hides weaknesses. and 1-0 series win will do that. they had chance to go up in rankings . still has it though.

    smartly played.

  • SL_Boy on January 19, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    I think SL are doing really good (this is the master plan), they dont care about wining the match ... it is all about wining the series ... so SL play for another 20 overs tomorrow and we can check PAK batting ...

  • Beyond-the-Boundary on January 19, 2014, 20:41 GMT

    One test does not make a series.

    Do not rush to judgement. Sri Lanka could have been looking at a 0-3 series loss and only luck and grit got them the escape in the first test and gain that slight edge needed. So to be now in a winning position is not bad at all.

    In this game, it was up to Sanga and Mahela to set up the long innings. Neither one succeeded. The conditions cannot be easy. Besides, Chandimal is out of his depth, or batting too far down the order. In other words, there are problems with Sri Lanka's batting, the caution is understandable.

    Test cricket is one of mind games, and until the last over is bowled we should try to appreciate what is going on. If Pakistan attempts to chase down 275 in two and half sessions, it will be electric...

  • Rocketman1 on January 19, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    The comments here would be much different if they had gone for quick runs and collapsed. Defensive and cautious cricket is labelled negative. A pursuit of fast runs would be labelled as T20 junies and unfit for pure Test cricket. The only solution is to play as best suits the cause and the cause is to win the series.

  • InsideHedge on January 19, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    I didn't realise there were even a few hundred fans in the stadium, it looks truly pathetic. An exciting sporting contest needs to be played to full houses but with the exception of Tests in England, and Ashes contests in Oz, Tests are played in front of paltry spectators all over the world. There's more fans at an international darts events.

    It's a major problem in Asia where 99.99% of fans simply don't care about Tests. The level of ignorance shown by these fans is astonishing, you'll often hear conversations from so called experts who can't distinguish between Tests and ODIs, they can't fathom why players can't score a ton off 90 balls in a Test when they saw that same player doing the same in coloured clothing a few days earlier.

    Short attention spans, digital age, stupid smart phones, commercials every 6 mins, this the age that today's kids are growing up in. I can't see them attending even one day of a 5 day Test Match.

  • on January 19, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Commentators need a resalt for every matches.But as a captain mathews should be considered about rare series win.Mathews should not run behind a resalt.win or lost will be results.But sri lankan need a win or draw.great work..Master plan...weldone mathews...