Pakistan in Sri Lanka / News

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st Test, Colombo, 4th day

'We are looking for consistency and we are looking to win'

Charlie Austin in Colombo

March 29, 2006

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Kumar Sangakkara: another master class © Getty Images
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Kumar Sangakkara's 185, which turned the match drastically in favour of the hosts, was his ninth Test hundred, third against Pakistan and second in successive Tests against them. After the day's play he spoke to the media on the disappointment of missing a double hundred, eschewing his usual flamboyance to dig in, and his team's search for consistency.

On the match situation
We have done really well and put ourselves in a winning position. They are still 370-odd runs behind and we just have to get a couple of key wickets tomorrow to add onto the pressure we already have them under and then hopefully things will go our way tomorrow.

On the key bowlers tomorrow
As always, we'll be looking to Muralitharan to do things for us but our fast bowlers have also done well on this track. We also have not seen much of Malinga [Bandara], who is a good bowler getting tougher and tougher. He could be dangerous on the final day. As long as we go about the basics right and everyone contributes we have a pretty good chance.

On his batting performance
I thought batting in the second innings was much easier than in the first. The wicket had settled down and it was just a case of spending time out there and concentrating very hard. Mahela [Jayawardene] was the best of the batsmen on that pitch - he played as if he was playing in his backyard, putting the bowlers to the sword. He scored runs so quickly that it took all the pressure off me. It was a shame that he did not get his hundred. I just had to dig in and do the job of anchoring the innings.

On not getting a double ton
I was disappointed but I was just trying to score as many runs as possible because we were planning on putting them into bat before tea. I just thought `why not get as close as possible with one shot?' It was the brightest thing to do with hindsight.

On whether Sri Lanka have batted Pakistan out of the game
Well...if they score 458 then they will have done fantastically well. It has never been done before. Right now, I think they have been batted out of the game unless someone comes out and does something miraculous tomorrow. Targets in excess of 400 are tricky things. You have to make up your mind as to whether you bat out time or go for the runs. The problem with chasing is that everytime you lose a wicket the pressure is added on and the other side stays on top. On a bowling track like this you probably hope that the batsmen do play shots as it gives you a chance to get them out. I think if they come back tomorrow and go for it then it could be a terrific game of cricket but there definitely will be a result either way. The balance is tipped very steeply in our favour and on a bowling track like this

On his best hundred against Pakistan
I think I was under a lot more pressure when I got my hundred in Karachi. We were over 200 runs behind and were trying to save the game. But as I always say, a hundred is a hundred and it does not matter against which side or how I score it, they are very important to me. Right now in world cricket you have got to score a lot of them to be compared to the world's best.

On Sri Lanka's turnaround after the first innings
Very hard to compare the second innings and what happened in the first innings. In all my tours abroad they has been movement but never as sharp as that. I think it caught us a little by surprise. On a wicket like that it is very difficult to play on. You have two options: dig in and wait or try to be positive. Either way they are opportunities on tracks like that to get you out. Tillakaratne Dilshan batted absolutely brilliantly on that track. But its difficult to compare.

On Sri Lanka's team and the future
It's always easier to remember the bad times we have gone through and forget the good times. There were times when the batting order was solid and there was a ot of consistency in the side. Players were getting a continued opportunity to play in the side. But when you are looking for the ideal combination for a side a little bit of inconsistency can creep in. That's not an excuse for batting badly on any track, but it is something at the back of our minds. We are looking for consistency and we are looking to win. It's nice to have collective support and effort from everyone involved in the sport when we are going about doing it. I think it is just starting to go right. We have had a few ups and downs in the past few months but looking on we can be positive. Every time we come out to train or play a game, the idea is to put in the best effort we can, win matches and try to do everything that we planned and practiced out on the field. We need to do that day in and day out to build up that consistency and hopefully we will do that very soon.

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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