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July 24, 2009
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara has said that though there was the temptation to go for a clean sweep in the Test series against Pakistan, he opted for the draw. With 15 overs remaining and Sri Lanka needing a further 101 to win on the final day at the SSC, he said his decision was largely dictated by the injury concerns over Tillakaratne Dilshan.
"If Dilshan was fit we could have tried a few things out," Sangakkara said. "We could have gone for a few more runs after tea, although they [Pakistan] bowled wide off the crease to cut the run supply and set defensive fields. When the 15 overs came up, we were in a position where we couldn't say either way, so we took the option of drawing the match."
Dilshan had broken his finger while keeping on the first day and sustained a cut above his left eye while batting the next day. He was scheduled to come in, had the fifth-wicket partnership of 114 between Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews been broken.
"We planned to bat out session by session," Sangakkara said. "The closer we were getting to their total, time was also running out and it became slightly easier to manage. I am pretty happy the way everyone played. This whole innings of ours as a team showed that we were starting to play proper Test cricket.
"We weren't really thinking about going for totals, we were trying to bat and enjoy our time out in the middle. If you are batting to save a game you really can't go too negative, that plays into the opposition's hands."
Though Sri Lanka opted to go into the match with a spinner short, Sangakkara believed that picking up a lead in the first innings may have turned the tide in the hosts' favour. Instead, they were bowled out, 66 runs adrift of Pakistan's effort in the first essay. Sri Lanka's task got even tougher as they were left to chase down a mammoth 492.
"It doesn't matter what bowling combinations we played in this match," Sangakkara said. "We should have won with our batting, had we got a 150-200 run lead over them. On a very good batting track, I think we could have put enough pressure on them with our bowling to make them crack again. We still had a chance when they were 67 for 4 [in the second innings] but a couple of chances went abegging. Even if we had kept them down to 360 just under 400 it could have been an interesting match again."
Sangakkara said the comprehensive 2-0 series win was mainly due to the bowlers. Fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, who was adjudged Man of the Series for his incisive fast bowling, ended as Sri Lanka's highest wicket-taker with 17 wickets. Spinner Rangana Herath, who also impressed during the three-match series, followed with 15 wickets, while Thilan Thushara bagged 12.
However, Sangakkara called for a more improved showing from the batsmen. "The efforts of Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Rangana Herath and Mathews enabled us to win the series. As batsmen we didn't play to our potential until the final innings of this Test. You can't ask for more than a series win but you've got to understand although we won it we always let the opposition in at certain times. When we could have really put them out of the game we let them have a slip. That is an area we really got to look at and change as a team.
"When you have the advantage you've got to make sure we run with it and put the opposition out of the game. We could have done it in the first innings at the P Sara Oval and we could have done it here in our first innings. Those are the areas that make life difficult for us."
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