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Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Galle
August 2, 2008
India may have gained the upper hand after dominating the third's day play in Galle, but Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, believes his team is not yet out of the contest. Jayawardene made a determined 86 but Sri Lanka conceded a lead of 37 on the first innings before India, buoyed by another brisk opening stand, reached 200 for 4 in their second innings. Jayawardene, however, looked back to the second day, and said losing four wickets against Harbhajan Singh in the final session had prevented his team from gaining the advantage.
"When the Indians batted first on that wicket, keeping them to 329 was a brilliant effort. The wicket was playing really well," Jayawardene said. "We had Kumar [Sangakkara] and Malinda [Warnapura] giving us a great start but we could not capitalise on that. A 75-100 runs lead would have been a different ball game altogether. That session yesterday was very crucial in this Test match but we still haven't been taken out of the game. We are still in it.
"Ideally if we had got a lead it would have been brilliant but I thought Harbhajan bowled very well the previous day to pick up Thilan [Samaraweera] and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan and straight away put us on the back foot," Jayawardene said. "After that our target was to try and get close to the Indian total which we fell short. They got a good start again but we managed to pull them back. It's an evenly balanced Test match if we can get a couple of early wickets tomorrow and put pressure on the Indians."
Jayawardene felt the track was turning and that the bowlers could create opportunities by sticking to the right areas. "Even on the first day Ajantha [Mendis] turned the ball so did Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] and then Harbhajan on the second day. But you still need to put the ball in the right areas," he said. "If you are really determined you can survive and get into a rhythm and it's quite easy to score runs. It is a good Test wicket.
"Out of the first six batters Harbhajan got five of the top order and that speaks for itself. A few of our guys were a bit too cautious but you should give credit to Harbhajan the way he bowled," he said. "Most of the guys got out to good balls, not that they threw away their wickets."
On Muralitharan's lack of success in the Test following his 11 wickets at the SSC, Jayawardene said: "India were batting cautiously as well as they were attacking at different times. With Murali we tried to get wickets early," he said. "Because of that he probably gave away a few loose ones and I brought him on with the new ball thinking that I can create an opportunity but it didn't happen and it was not ideal for him. When you have a top spinner like him the batsmen tend to bat cautiously.
"Murali will come to the party. It's just that in these couple of days, they've batted well against him."
Sri Lanka had four unsuccessful reviews while bowling in this Test until Murali's leg-before shout against Rahul Dravid was turned down by Billy Doctrove. Jayawardene asked for the review, and like a few successful calls in the first Test, the system ensured Sri Lanka were not unfairly denied a wicket because of human error. The evidence on offer indicated the decision was correct, but Dravid wasn't too pleased. Jayawardene, though, is for the system. "In this series there were quite a few obvious mistakes but we managed to turn it around," he said. "It is a good thing for the game in future."
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