Disappointed Jayawardene hints at pace boost
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, blamed the batsmen for his side's defeat in Galle. Sri Lanka, who conceded a lead of 37 on the first innings after restricting India to 329, managed to last only 47.3 overs in their second as they were bundled out for 136. Speaking after the 170-run loss, which levelled the three-Test series 1-1, Jayawardene suggested his team might consider "a quick bowler" like Ishant Sharma for the series-decider.
"I didn't think the match would have been over today. I thought we could give India a better fight," Jayawardene said. "We fought every time we were down. We fought very well to come back into this Test match. To get six wickets this morning in quick time and restricting India to 269 was a brilliant effort. That gave us a good opportunity to chase these runs down."
Although stating that "batting first would be ideal" on subcontinent pitches, Jayawardene felt his batsmen should have chased down the target. "It's important we get a good start in any run chase," Jayawardene said. "We didn't get it and [being down] 10 for 3 wasn't ideal.
"The bowling unit fought really well throughout the Test and created opportunities for us and kept the Indians under control," he said. Like on Saturday, Jayawardene said the failure to gain the advantage in the first innings had cost his team dearly. "The disappointment was in the first innings where we should have capitalised and put more pressure on the Indians," he said. "We should have got a few more runs on the board. We played really good cricket for two to three days and we just lost it in the last two sessions of the fourth day."
Jayawardene hinted his team was missing a genuine quick bowler. The fast bowlers hadn't made much of an impact in the series so far, but Ishant extracted pace and bounce to surprise Sri Lanka's batsmen on Sunday. "A quick bowler like Ishant is something for us to discuss. Ishant is an exceptional bowler," Jayawardene said. "He creates a bit of bounce on these kinds of wickets. That's something which India has."
The ineffectiveness of Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Kulasekara in Colombo had prompted the selectors to call up Dammika Prasad, who took 4 for 58 in the tour game against the Indians prior to the Tests. However, Sri Lanka stuck to the same new-ball pairing in Galle. Vaas took two vital wickets in both innings of this Test after going wicketless in Colombo, but the pressure will be on Kulasekara, who has taken only one wicket in 33 overs in the series. With Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga out due to injury, Prasad could get the nod for the final Test. "We just need to make a smart choice," Jayawardene said. "We'll have a chat with the selectors. We have a few options in our squad and see what we can come up with."
Even in subcontinental conditions, Jayawardene said the batsmen needed to be wary of the new ball, although it's the spinners who will do the bulk of the damage. "Going into the fourth day or fifth day of a Test match, you always know that when you have [to face] two top-class spinners the mindset would be there. But we always knew that the new ball is always going to be a factor on these kinds of wickets," he said. "That's where you probably can pick up a couple of wickets. Thilan [Samaraweera] showed a lot of character to hang around there and batted well but it was a bit too much for him in the end."
One positive for Sri Lanka was the progress of Ajantha Mendis, who took the first ten-wicket haul of his career, in just his second Test, and Jayawardene praised Sri Lanka's young spin sensation. "I am very happy for Ajantha, in his second Test match, to pick up ten wickets. He bowled brilliantly and supported the other bowlers as well."
Jayawardene, though, brushed off suggestions of any changes in the batting line-up. "The last game was brilliant, we got 600 runs. One game you have a bad run you just can't point fingers and say this is bad," he said. "It is just that we need to figure out a way of controlling situations a bit better especially under pressure and see how we can come out of it."
While India's openers had stands of 167 and 90, Sri Lanka's duo of Michael Vandort and Malinda Warnapura managed just 4 in both innings. However, Jayawardene is not pressing for any changes. "Michael has been one of the consistent bats in the last six months. In Australia he batted really well. Malinda is coming into his own. It is just that we need both of them to hang in there for a while."