Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele, 5th day September 12, 2011

Mendis out of third Test


Ajantha Mendis will play no part in the Test series against Australia, having been ruled out of the final match in Colombo because of a back complaint, Sri Lanka's captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has said. However, left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is on course to recover from a knock to his spinning finger and play at the SSC Ground.

Viewed by Australia as one of their chief threats entering the series, Mendis has been afflicted by back trouble since late in the ODI series and they flared up again on the first morning of the Pallekele Test, ruling him out of the match after he had been selected. The news is a blow for Sri Lanka, who need to find another way to pose questions for the visiting batsmen after Australia carved out a strong total in the second Test to place the hosts under severe pressure in their second innings.

"Mendis is out of the next Test, he has to rest for another week or another one and a half weeks to rest, without any bowling," Dilshan said. "I think Rangana now is getting back to [fitness], his finger is much better, I think he can start bowling tomorrow and see if he is okay for the next match."

While Sri Lanka had very little chance of victory from the moment they were bowled out for a measly 174 on the first day, Dilshan cited a stronger second innings as evidence that the series could still be turned around. Ever the aggressor, Dilshan said he had discussed with his team the possibility of scoring runs quickly on the final day and then sending Australia in for 40 or 50 overs. Such an optimistic scenario was not looking likely when the rain descended finally, as Sri Lanka led by only 80 with four wickets in hand.

"Definitely this is a very good batting performance," Dilshan said. "After three innings we batted from first Test to now, this is a very good performance for all the batsmen to get their confidence and we are carried forward by it to the last Test. This is a good sign for us as a batting group.

"We didn't bat well in the first innings of this match, but we can't control the weather. This is the same problem these past few years with the rain and we didn't get the result. But I'm really happy we fight back and come back really strong. We had a chat last night that we might bat first session today and then give 40 to 50 overs to the Australian side and try something to do, but unfortunately we can't control this rain."

The SSC pitch is famed for its friendliness to batsmen, and the trio of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera have been particularly prolific at the ground. Samaraweera's place is thought to be under some threat after a difficult first two Tests, and even his second innings 43 was a streaky display, including a dropped catch on nought.

"Normally the SSC wicket is a really good batting track and a flat wicket," Dilshan said. "I don't know what has happened there the last few days, it is raining in Colombo, we have to go there tomorrow and discuss with the curator what the wicket is like. Normally it is a flat wicket with help for the batsmen."

The match will mark 100 Tests for Sangakkara, and Dilshan observed that a win and a drawn series would be a fitting result to honour the universally respected batsman and former captain. "To play 100 matches is not easy, especially Test cricket," Dilshan said. "If we can give him a win in his 100th match I think it would be a good gift for Sangakkara."

A 1-1 series result would also keep Sri Lanka in fourth place in the ICC rankings, above Australia.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on September 15, 2011, 1:14 GMT

    @landl47 /hyclass - have a look at Bangladesh stats in their FC comp. Statistically, their is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Bangas should be doing better than what they have. Trouble is, their domestic competition is currently an unrealistic bubble, by playing on dead wickets. The standard of a domestic comp can only be truely evaluated by how a domestic FC career transfers to their Test career. County cricket is NOT a good form guide as their is a big difference between 1st & 2nd division, (this is not a comment on County cricket as a whole, just their can be statistical anomolies). During the height of the Ozzy dominance players like S Waugh & Warne would average less in the Shield than in their test careers. Even today, Nathan Hauritz has an inferior FC career to his Test career, same goes with Harris.

  • Christopher on September 15, 2011, 0:00 GMT

    @landl47.No misreading.Theres no such equation as good batsmen and bowlers cancelling each other out,though its a charming theory.The SL middle order,all average over 50 in Tests.To endure internationally,they MUST play,high standard,local cricket.For bowlers in that competition to have excellent records,they MUST have quality.Both Prasanna and Eranga have been excellent on the SL-A tour of England.Internationally,theres a vogue of debunking the quality of local competitions.CA spent a good deal of the last 12months,discrediting Shield to validate their own poor judgement.County Cricket has long bourne a similar mantle.Its a consequence of huge volumes of cricket diluting results.More good would accrue if due credit was given to domestic competitions.No nation is trying to produce weak cricket.SL CANNOT have HIGH batting averages,LOW bowling averages AND a weak competition.Pace bowlers there have good S/R but take under 3 wickets per game.It implies few overs.New ball spells only?

  • John on September 14, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    @hyclass: aren't you misreading the way that averages work? The best batsmen are going to have the high averages and the best bowlers the low averages. The greater the difference between the two, the more substandard players there are- poor bowlers to give the good batsmen high averages and poor batsmen to give the bowlers low averages. The good batsmen and bowlers will cancel each other out when they go head-to-head, so the runs and wickets must come against lesser opposition. If you look at the English county championship, over a period of, say, 5 years, hardly any batsmen will have averages of 50 and even fewer bowlers will have averages of 20. The ones that do are almost all great players, not run-of-the-mill cricketers. In Aus, bowlers with averages of over 40 make the test team! Not so with Sri Lanka- check their averages in domestic competition. There's a huge difference between the best batting averages and the best bowling averages. That means a lot of subpar players.

  • Andrew on September 14, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @Jono Makim, I agree that SL isn't the worst bowling attack, but the W Indies have some very exciting players like Roach, Rampaul, Taylor (if fit), & Edwards + spinners like Bishoo & Benn, on paper, they are on paper one of the better line ups in the world. NZ have Southee & Vetorri, & the Zimmers have 3 or 4 very good young pace bowlers & some wily spin options, all of which could of done as well or maybe better than the SL attack has done. SL as you said have bowled on the whole quite well, particularly on the 2nd morning of the 2nd Test.

  • Andrew on September 14, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    @hris 3 of the young quicks you want to have in the squad (all talented), have been injured over the last 12mths or so. They need to put in the hard yards off the paddock & then prove themselves on the paddock. I like the looks of Richardson, but he has less FC exposure than Lyon!!!!

  • Lakmal on September 13, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    @mrgupta : mate ..look at the population of ur country. over god! ok..all of them don't play cricket.But India hasgot a vastly superior cricket structure.Why can't u produce a good set of bowlers out of thousands of cricketers?

  • Lakmal on September 13, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    @ Gerard Pereira : -"... SL wil lstruggle to beat bangladesh".well...that's ur opinion,so i can't oject it.But we are rebuilding these days.That's why we give more and more chances to the younger players.In near future,with the guidance of the seniors,they will become superheroes.then......we'll see.

  • Lakmal on September 13, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    @anshu.s: good comment mate.A rare one from an Indian(we don't see Indians talking positively abt SL frequently).Hats off to u.what u have said is correct indeed.

  • Hrishikesh on September 13, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    @manesha Swann doesnt need to be like murali, no bowler should, bcuz Swann is a better bowler. Murali was a chucker. Swann has a clean old school action, gets nice loop and drift and is a joy to watch. If this was baseball then maybe we could talk about murali being better than swann. Warne though, is 10 times better than either of 'em.

  • Jon on September 13, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    I'd like to see SL stick with the young leggie - world cricket is great to watch when these guys are bowling but they do seem to take time to develop.

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