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Andrew Miller's report card on Sri Lanka's individual performances in the three-Test series
December 22, 2007
Sri Lanka returned from Australia and looked all at ease at home. The top two batsmen dominated by remaining at the crease, grinding the bowlers down, and the two canny veteran bowlers merrily chipped away. Catches were held, run outs were effected, and at the end a very happy camp took several steps up the ICC ladder. Cricinfo runs the rule over the men who took the field.
Mahela Jayawardene - 9.5
As close to perfection as a captain can get. Beneath the placid exterior lurks a competitor forged from steel, and nobody withstood the heat of battle better than he. Vital contributions to each and every Test, and his returns grew as the series went on. The tempo of his double-century at Galle was exemplary - he piled on the runs while baking England in the heat for two-and-a-half days, and afterwards turned on them with the directness of a Waugh or Ranatunga, accusing them of giving up too soon. He was spot on as well.
Kumar Sangakkara - 9
Utterly imperious at Kandy, where he ascended to the top of the world rankings with his fourth score of 150-plus in consecutive Tests, not to mention a 92 in the first innings. At that stage of the series England had not a clue how to dismiss him, so it came as some surprise that he failed to pass fifty at either Colombo (where he received an excellent delivery from Ryan Sidebottom) or Galle (where he suffered a rare lapse in concentration straight after lunch). Nevertheless, that first-Test performance wrecked the resolve of England's bowlers.
Muttiah Muralitharan - 8.5
An historic series for the rubber-wristed one, as he reclaimed his world Test bowling record from Shane Warne and set about establishing a benchmark that may never be surpassed. It was not as easy for him as the statistics suggest - he was made to work hard for his breakthroughs on three unresponsive surfaces, and was vocally frustrated about the pitch that was presented for the second Test at the SSC. Nevertheless his class oozed through whenever it mattered.
Chaminda Vaas - 8
Entered the series with doubts about his future, but answered his critics in time-honoured fashion. Played a vital role in breaking England's second innings at Kandy, but really came into his own on that seismic third day at Galle when England's fortunes hit rock-bottom. Though he missed out on a hugely deserved second Test century, he was the principal destroyer with the ball as England slipped to 81 all out. He says he wants one more year of Test cricket and two more in ODIs. On this evidence he'll get his wish.
Michael Vandort - 7
Valuable contributions in the first two Tests, including his second century in four appearances against England. Surprisingly lacks stature for such a tall man, but England found it nigh on impossible to dislodge him when well set. Set the scene nicely for the middle-order colossi who followed.
Lasith Malinga - 7
Only six wickets in the series, but the stats tell a fraction of the story. Malinga's flamboyant hostility gave Sri Lanka's attack a razor-sharp cutting edge, never better exemplified than at Galle, when he all but decapitated Kevin Pietersen with a searing lifter that flicked the glove. He also applied the coup de grace at Kandy, where he yorked Matthew Hoggard to seal victory with 20 minutes remaining. None of England's batsmen were ever entirely at ease facing him.
Tillakaratne Dilshan - 7
Belatedly recalled for the off-colour Jehan Mubarak, and instantly made his presence felt with a punchy 84 that carried Sri Lanka out of danger on the second day at Galle. Denied himself a century in trying to secure one for his captain, but made amends for his own run-out by throwing down Ian Bell's stumps at the start of England's innings, to trigger their chaotic collapse.
Chanaka Welagedera - 6
An impressive debut, aided in no small part by England's abject batting. But he was sharp and accurate in his solitary outing, and looks like a made-to-measure replacement for when Vaas calls time on his illustrious career.
Prasanna Jayawardene - 6
Like his English opposite number, Jayawardene was all or nothing with the bat. Important fifties at Kandy and Colombo were followed by a third-ball duck at Galle. The big difference was his performance behind the stumps, where he was unobtrusive and reliable - except for one uncharacteristic spill on the final morning of the series. The mere fact he has been keeping at all is a bonus for Sri Lanka as well - it has allowed Sangakkara to blossom as a specialist batsman.
Dilhara Fernando - 5
Effectiveness was undermined by a long-standing ankle problem that eventually forced his withdrawal ahead of Galle. Nevertheless, his three wickets at Kandy included England's middle-order pillars, Pietersen and Paul Collingwood, both of whom were capable of carrying their side to safety. And at Colombo he even chipped in with a career-best batting effort of 36 not out - only the third time in 30 Tests he had reached double figures.
Upul Tharanga - 4
Secured his recall after heavy scoring against England in their warm-up matches, but wasn't able to translate that form into the Tests. Twice fell early at Colombo and Galle, but twice it proved to be a false dawn for England's batsmen.
Chamara Silva - 4
A bit-part contributor. No performances of note, except that Steve Harmison exposed a weakness to the rising off-stump delivery. Played a minor role with the ball at Colombo, where he picked up his first Test wicket. But otherwise it was a quiet series.
Jehan Mubarak - 3
Sri Lanka's only outright failure. A desperately poor run of form came to an end after 18 runs in three innings, on two of the more batsman-friendly surfaces a player could hope for. He's played in just ten Tests since making his debut in July 2002, and has never featured in more than three in a row.