Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele, 4th day September 11, 2011

Sangakkara calls for extended runs for players


Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka batsman, has called for stability in the team after they gave themselves a chance of staving off a Test match and series defeat by Australia in Pallekele. While he acknowledged the team's poor performances with the bat so far in the series, he said the batsmen needed to be given extended runs without the constant fear of being dropped. Only that, he said, could bring positive results - Sri Lanka have not won a Test match since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan..

"The first thing is the guys have to be pretty solid in their minds about what their roles are," Sangakkara said. "They've also got to be comfortable in the fact they're here because they're good enough and also that they're going to be given a nice, long-lasting run to prove what they can do. No-one comes here easily, everyone's done the hard work in the A side or in first-class cricket to get to this level and earn a Test cap for Sri Lanka.

"But it's hard for batsmen to play looking over their shoulders; they need to be told 'we trust you enough to go out and do the job for the country' and these guys will respond to that. I think [Tillakaratne] Dilshan's done that pretty well. You're seeing slow results, but at all times the senior guys have to keep putting their hands up and performing; that's what's going to allow the newcomers to perform even better."

Sri Lanka started the fourth day in Pallekele 237 runs behind after a first-innings surrender for 174. By the close they were 223 for 2, just 14 behind, with Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in occupation on the cusp of the second new ball.

"It was important we showed some character in this innings," Sangakkara said, "especially since the last three innings we've had opportunities to try to win Test matches but we haven't done that with our batting. Today was another opportunity for the guys to go out there and graft the runs and if we get a good start again tomorrow morning we can put some pressure back on the Australians."

Under a new captain in Michael Clarke, Australia brought an inexperienced bowling attack to Sri Lanka, but Sangakkara expressed genuine respect for the way the visitors have gone about their work, forcing the hosts to accept that hard graft was the only path to runs.

"It's pretty disappointing but we can't point the finger at anyone else but ourselves [about the batting so far]. Test matches are usually won or lost on first-innings totals; very rarely do you see huge comebacks in the third and fourth innings. As a batting side we're going up against an Australian attack that's come out here and showed us how disciplined and well planned they are in their bowling. We've got to be up for the fight.

"It is not just a case of batting a session or batting two sessions, it is about batting five, six, seven sessions against these guys to build up good totals. It's hard to allow bowlers to dominate the course of things throughout, but they've done a really good job of bowling straight, bowling great areas and bowling to their fields. This is not a side against whom you can score a hundred in a session or two, it is a case of pushing the Australia bowlers into their third or fourth spells, tiring them out and then grafting your runs."

The DRS caused some more headaches for both sides on the fourth day, as Tharanga Paranavitana was first the beneficiary then the victim of its vagaries. In both instances replays suggested there might have been a deflection to the keeper but there did not appear to be conclusive evidence of an edge; however, while Paranavitana survived the first review, the second not-out decision was overturned. Sangakkara said technology was not yet 100% accurate, and therefore a state of compromise had to be reached between those providing technology and those compelled to use it.

"We've all seen technology; we've seen the good and the bad of it. We've seen Hawk-Eye not picking up the turn of the ball, depending on the distance between where the ball pitches and where it hits the pad; you've seen Hotspot sometimes fail in the India-England series, so the debate will go on.

"Today we saw Paranavitana given not-out on the field and the decision overturned by the third umpire, so that'll probably be another point of debate. I think everybody's got to come to a middle ground, where you've got to accept that it's not 100% if you're using it and be comfortable with that, or go back and say we'll wait until technology is 100%."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deleepa on September 12, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    Time to move on from Samaraweera. Give that place to Banuka Rajapakse or Chandimal. Also drop that straight line bowling Randiv!! He's not for Test cricket. Dilshan need to step down for the sake of SL cricket.

  • Dummy4 on September 12, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    what about stability in bowling? why have bowlers who have taken more wickets in previous matches been left out?

  • Dru on September 12, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    I am not sure what Sanga is suggesting here. Hasnt the top seven in this team played for an extended period of time now? The changes on the bowling front have been I must admit have been many but some of it due to injury and of course non-performance.

  • Thushara on September 12, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    I see something that needs attention from gentlemen's perspective of the game. As correctly pointed out by cricinfo article, Tharanga Paranavithana seem to be only interested about the innings he plays. In the 1st innings, he edged the ball to slips and didn't walk when it was a big edge. When he was 26 he gloved it and then got the benefit of the 3rd umpire (still didn't walk) when he was again out on 55 edging, still he was walking to the ground indicating he was 'not out'.He ran Mahela out in the 1st game too. This is the bane of allowing 'just players' who have six-a-side soft ball batsmen mentality who don't walk eventhough they are out. They sadly lack gentlemenship to the game. Sri Lanka need to find out future players but these players should be able to represent SL internationally. Right now, quite a few newcomers who have ethics are there in the team. Sad...

  • Christopher on September 12, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    Ive heard this mantra before.'No change is better than change'.Its the one,recently being refuted by Don Argus.Im surprised that those proposing it dont see the irony.Players that are selected to play Test cricket,are supposed to be selected on 1st class and A-Team form. When they are selected,they are replacing someone who wasnt performing. Why then,should the system that allowed them to be selected, now be changed to prevent them being dropped? It does no-one any good. Quality and volume of results over time,must be the sole selection criterion. All others lead to loss of integrity of the process and heartbreak. I believe the batsmen are failing because,other than on the Galle minefield,their bowling is not capable of upholding its end of the pressure creation,domination and match-winning,bargain. It leaves all the results pressure on the batsmen. Given the highly mediocre records of its pace men and Randiv,now might have been a judicious time to trial Eranga.

  • Christopher on September 12, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    Pallekele is a flat wicket,but there will be movement for the first hour of play.Even if these two see of the new ball,given the SL batting lineups fragility and long tail,Australia will always feel that they can win this game.I have no problem with Prasanna Jayawardenes dismissal to Lyon.There is little batting behind him and if he can hit Lyon out of the attack and dent his confidence,it will go a long way to helping SL in this series.It was not the shot at fault,nor the intention,but the execution and it is drawing a long bow,to blame 20/20.Calculated risks are part of establishing ascendancy in cricket.For bowlers,failure means a few boundaries,or a spell.For batsmen,it means their dismissal.The first Test can hardly be credited,given the suspect wicket.It is now,in this innings and this partnership that SL must demonstrate character.The last 4 in the batting order are the weakness and have as few pretentions as batsmen as they do as Test bowlers at this stage in their careers.

  • Andrew on September 12, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    I am happy that Sri Lankan batting has improved in the second innings. I do not agree with Sangakkara. If you do not perform consistanly, then you have to go. There are so many talanted people waiting in the wings. You must be good enough to take up the challenge and perform under pressure. I was horrified to see Prasanna Jayawardane playing rash shots like in a T20 match and losing his wicket. That was reckless batting. These are things that batting coaches should address. I do not see why Sangakkara cannot be the wicket keeper and get a good batsman to replace Prasanna. Hopefully Sri Lanka will draw the second test and keep the Series alive.

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    sri lanken batsman lost their confidence and over estimated australian bowlers. if you want to win a test match that you should be mentally high first.

  • Dummy4 on September 11, 2011, 21:49 GMT

    There is still a high possibility of us losing this match....we are known for royal middle order collapses ..

  • Delan on September 11, 2011, 20:31 GMT

    Most of this batting line up is fairly experienced...Dilshan, Sanga, Mahela and Tilan have played a lot of tests, so he can't say they need a decent run of games to perform!

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