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July 13, 2009
"We are back to square one." That was Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss' curt analysis of where the home side were after the second day's play at the P Sara.
Having rolled Pakistan over for 90 and then closed day one on 163 for 3, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 240 - a lead of 150 - and then were put on the defensive by maiden centurion Fawad Alam. Spearheaded by a four-wicket haul by Umar Gul, Pakistan came back into the Test strongly and went to stumps with a lead of 28 with nine second innings wickets in hand.
"Pakistan played well today and the game is evenly poised again. We played two days of cricket and we are probably back to square one," said Bayliss. "We had a good first day and they had a good second day. The one experienced bowler in both teams put his hand up today and bowled well for them and got them back into the game."
When Sri Lanka resumed on 164 for 3 their plans were to bat as long as possible, but that was thwarted by Gul and offspinner Saeed Ajmal, who shared eight wickets between them.
"Our plan was to bat for two or three days if we could," said Bayliss. "As it turned out Sanga scored runs and we made a few starts. We needed one more batter to go on and get a good score and be 250-plus in front that would have been nice. 150 in front we'll take that. The game's evenly poised after two days and with three days to go whoever plays the best cricket in the last three days will win."
Bayliss was confident Sri Lanka would come back. "They've realised they had better days in cricket. Tomorrow's another day to wake up still breathing and go and play a game of cricket," he said. "These guys are professional cricketers, that's why they are good and are able to turn performances around from day to day. They've had bad days before and come out and had good days the next day. That's just what happens in the game of cricket. Pakistan showed that they were able to turn it around. We showed that we can turn it around in the first Test in Galle. It's just one of those things that happen in cricket."
Bayliss believed the pitch had flattened out and that it was not going to be easy for any bowler from here onwards. "The history of this wicket is that in the last six games we played here tells you the wicket gets pretty good and doesn't deteriorate as much as you might think," he said. "It looks to be playing pretty well at the moment and hope it would continue to do so for the next couple of days."
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