Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle August 30, 2011

Spinners' experience advantage for hosts - Dilshan

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Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan believes the experience of his slow bowlers will provide a useful advantage over Australia's rookie spinners in the first Test in Galle, which begins on Wednesday.

The hosts are leaning towards playing only two of the three spinners in their squad, as doubts remain over the allrounder Angelo Mathews' ability to deliver significant spells following his recent knee problem. Rangana Herath and Suraj Randiv would appear to be the frontrunners for those two spots over Ajantha Mendis, who has played more ODI cricket than Tests of late.

Herath, who made his Test debut against Australia on this ground in 1999, and Randiv both have vast experience of the Galle pitch and the sea breezes that influence the flight. By contrast, neither Michael Beer nor Nathan Lyon had ever set foot in Sri Lanka before they were picked for this tour.

"Yes definitely [experience is an advantage], our spinners have bowled here in practice games and they've played club cricket here," Dilshan said. "They know how to adjust to this wicket and the wind, I think that is a small advantage.

"[Beer and Lyon] bowled well in the practice game, the left-arm spinner and the offspinner. The thing is, we have to bat really well. In the last [home] series against India we faced Harbhajan [Singh], one of the best spinners in Asia. [So] I think our guys can handle their spinners."

Experience was clearly a priority for Dilshan and the Sri Lanka selectors. They chose to omit the fresher-faced trio of Seekuge Prasanna, Shaminda Eranga and Dhammika Prasad who had featured in the limited-overs squads, even after Prasanna and Eranga had impressed in the one-dayers. The 13 that remain will be trimmed on the morning of the match.

"It's an important match starting tomorrow here and I want to try and play the experienced guys who've been playing well for us the past few months," Dilshan said.

Mathews captained the Sri Lanka Board XI against the Australians in their only warm-up match before the Tests, and though he batted solidly on the final day he did not bowl at all. Dilshan said Mathews would only be capable of ten to 15 overs in an innings, hardly the stuff of a new-ball bowler - a role he would have to fill, if Sri Lanka are to play all three spinners - in any conditions.

"He's fit enough to bowl maybe ten to 15 overs for one innings, not long spells. Three-over spells might be his sort of thing," Dilshan said. "Angelo is a good batsman, he has batted at No. 7 in the last few years. I could manage [juggle] a little bit in the middle, he might be available to bowl tomorrow."

History suggests that Galle is all but guaranteed of producing a result, unless the weather intervenes, and Dilshan said he was confident his batsmen would be able to compile enough runs to put pressure on Australia.

"We have had a very solid [Test] batting line-up in the last three or four years," he said. "From No. 1 to No. 6 we've batted really well. Especially in the last series, we batted well with six batsmen in England. I have confidence in my line-up, with Thilan [Samaraweera] in the middle order and Prasanna Jayawardene."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on August 31, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    All these spinners make me sick. Doctored dust bowls on day 1, spinners on in the first 10 overs make me sick. I refuse to watch any more sub continent series'.

  • dummy4fb on August 30, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    hopefully it will be a good series

  • dummy4fb on August 30, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    It appears that Daniel Brettig doesn't see the virtues of Ajantha Mendis.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 30, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    I notice some SL fans saying Dilshan isn't a good captain and that Clarke is better etc. Under Dilshan SL lost narrowly in the last ODI series against England and lost the Test series 1/0. M.S.Dhoni leading the former 'Best Test team in the world' were white washed by the same England. Memories are fickle! Clarke, appointed captain in March 2011 has a long way to wander before anyone can really assess his captaincy. Dilshan hasn't being captain that long either but he handled that tough England tour with great panache despite breaking a thumb.

  • CricketFan2011WC on August 30, 2011, 18:07 GMT

    I really can not understand why only choosing experienced players for spin-bowling. Rather choose new talent as well. Dilshan, be creative...Use fresh guys too. They provide some variations in Aus batting minds....Randiv is an OK bowler and a good batsmen. Not a person who can change a game. According to what I have seen...Correct me if I am wrong...

  • Street_Hawk on August 30, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    What is wrong with picking Senanayake over Herath?...he has been given enough chance but has not proved to be a match winner..time to give new guys like Prasanna, Senanayake a chance

  • Ellis on August 30, 2011, 12:01 GMT

    Getting Mathews to bowl while his injuries have yet to fully heal is madness. Risking permanent injury to one of Sri Lanka's most talented young cricketers is very poor man management. Malinga now sits on the sidelines during Tests because he was badly handled with his injuries. Although he is a lucky bowler and picks up important wickets, it is clear that Mathews is not 100 per cent in his bowling action. Play him as a batsman, or leave him out till he fully heals. Despite the supposed advantage that SL has with spin, the Aussies will not go down meekly. If it gets to be a close series, I would back the Aussie spirit to come out on top.SL has a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and I believe we will see that in evidence during this series.Clarke is a vastly better captain than Dilshan, and Australia will capitalise on this advantage.

  • Cris_G on August 30, 2011, 11:31 GMT

    I dont agree with the ommission of Eranga & Prasanna. But as was proven in the one-dayers, if our batsmen dont do the job then our spin advantage will mean nothing. With Mathews unable to bowl I thought the line-up should be. Paranavitana, Dilshan, Sanga, Mahela, Thilan, Mathews, Prasanna J, S Prasanna, Welegedara, Eranga & Mendis.

  • dummy4fb on August 30, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    Prasanna's impressive record is mainly due to the fact that he has been playing in the Tier 2 domestic competition which is hardly strong at all. Prassanna is more of a One Day bowler than a First Class bowler and Sachithra Senayake is a better bowler in Tests but we'll see.

  • dummy4fb on August 30, 2011, 10:53 GMT

    Our guys will never learn! How could you ommit Prasanna? We played Herath in England, but he could not do much to get wickets. It is a waste of time keep playing Herath and depriving giving a chance to one of the best spinners for our future.

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