Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Colombo, 3rd day June 27, 2007

Penney rues dropped catches

Rajin Saleh: 'My objective was to concentrate for long hours and occupy the crease' © Getty Images

Sri Lanka's stand-in coach, Trevor Penney, expects his side to wrap up the first Test against Bangladesh on the fourth morning at SSC tomorrow despite a fighting performance from Bangladesh in their second innings. After being shot out for 89 in the first innings, Bangladesh put up stern resistance in the second to end the third day at 233 for 5, still trailing by 255 runs.

The position could have been worse for them had Sri Lanka held onto a couple of catches. Instead Rajin Saleh was given two lives at 37 and again at 43, and took advantage of these lapses to frustrate the Lankan bowlers for 229 minutes, in scoring a half-century.

"If we caught those catches it would have been a different story and we could have had a few more wickets under our belts," said Penney. "It was a long day today, but no excuses. Those catches should have been taken. Other than that the general ground fielding was good. The crucial thing is that with the pitch playing so easy those catches become very vital. Poor Dilhara [Fernando] charging in the heat on a very flat wicket and you get a dropped catch like that you feel very sorry for him. No one means to drop a catch."

"At 220 for 3 they were really playing well and if they had ended up with 250 for 3 it would have been a different story," said Penney. "Thankfully we got those two wickets late in the day and that sort of evened things up and gave our boys hope for tomorrow morning to bowl them out."

Penney was not surprised that Bangladesh put up strong resistance in the second innings. "I was half expecting them to play well," he said. "If they can get big scores in one-day cricket on not as flat a wicket as this, I thought if they'd come out and been positive and played properly they could get quite a big score. I was undecided. If we got early wickets I thought maybe we could get them out for another low score, but if they started well it would given them confidence. That's what it did. They were up for the challenge today."

"They batted really well especially their opening pair. They were positive and their shot selection was good. I thought we bowled well. We attacked thinking we could get a few early wickets with the new ball, we didn't so all respect to them. Everyone was expecting them to get knocked over quite easy but they've come out fighting."

Penney was a bit critical of his captain, Mahela Jayawardene, for switching to the fast bowlers when the light was dull - play eventually ended early for bad light with 10.3 overs still left to be bowled for the day. "Mahela asked the umpires if he could bowl the fast bowlers and they said he could," said Penney. "But after three or four balls and the bouncer they said they were going off. Certainly if we stayed with the spinners we could have gone through till the end of time and maybe got a couple of more wickets. That didn't work out well for us

Bangladesh's hero, Saleh, admitted it was tough batting in the middle especially against such a formidable bowling attack comprising Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. "My objective was to concentrate for long hours and occupy the crease, not think about scoring runs," said Saleh. "But my lack of concentration which led to my dismissal did not work well for me or my team. Previously the same kind of ball bowled to me I defended. But this particular ball I thought I could go for a drive. It was not what I should have done."

Saleh edged a simple catch to Jayawardene at slip off a delivery from the part-time bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan. Saleh is confident if Bangladesh can continue batting the way they did today, playing session by session, it was still possible to prolong the game. "That should be the game plan for tomorrow."