NZ's defensive approach helped us - Bayliss
Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, has said that his team capitalised on New Zealand's negative bowling to finish on top on the first day at the SSC. On a slow-paced day, half-centuries by Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera took Sri Lanka to a strong 262 for 3. Daniel Vettori and Iain O'Brien were the only wicket-takers on a day when the tourists toiled hard on a flat pitch after losing the toss.
"It would have been a bit difficult for us if we had to play a few more balls," Bayliss said. "They looked like they didn't want us to get away but on this track, which looked like it had a little bit of seam on it, maybe bowling around the off stump might have had us in a bit more trouble."
In a truncated first session, Sri Lanka scored 62 and lost a wicket; in the second they lost two and scored 83. In the final session, they scored 116 runs and lost no wickets, with Samaraweera and Jayawardene going strong.
"The New Zealanders came out with a plan obviously not to let us get away probably the way we did in Galle," Bayliss said. "We spoke about being patient and not chasing the wide balls. I thought we did that pretty well, especially Mahela [Jayawardene] and [Thilan] Samaraweera. They wore the opposition down to a certain degree and later on in the day, when they started to come and bowl a bit closer to the stumps, we were able to score a little bit quicker. It was a good day for us and we are in a good position."
Bayliss described the wicket as slow, with tennis-ball type bounce. "Earlier on we were thinking if we get to 300 we will be happy with it. The wicket became a little bit easier to bat on as the day wore on. We will be very happy with 350 if we can get to 400 we would be very pleased."
Bayliss was also full of praise for Jayawardene, who he says has played some exceptional knocks over the last two years in charge as coach. Jayawardene looked on course to another century in his favourite venue, batting on 79. He was watchful during his stint and focused on playing a long innings.
"His powers of concentration and his mental strength are exceptional," Bayliss said. "Some of the innings that he's played, and under pressure, have been sensational. He showed it again today."
On Daniel Vettori's achievement of reaching 300 Test wickets to add to his 3000 Test runs, Bayliss said: "It's testament to not only his skill but his long period in the game, since he started at 18. He has a lot of good cricket ahead of him."