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

Mendis out of third Test

Daniel Brettig in Pallekele

September 12, 2011

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Ajantha Mendis is pumped up after bowling Brad Haddin first ball, Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Twenty20, Pallekele, August 8, 2011
Ajantha Mendis misses out on the third Test with a back problem that kept him out of the first two Tests as well © Associated Press
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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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Meety 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.

Posted by hyclass 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?

Posted by landl47 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.

Posted by Meety 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.

Posted by Meety 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!!!!

Posted by MENDIS_Forever 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?

Posted by MENDIS_Forever 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.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever 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.

Posted by hris 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.

Posted by jkaussie 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.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2011, 10:49 GMT)

@lanl47 - So you tent to say that playing Eng/Aus, county matches can change the nature of the game.How can you say that SL is only going for draw cause they haveflat tracks...I think you got it wrong...SL is not not the only country and you should point at the whole subcontinent....when it comes to flat by giving Prasanna one match and you come in to say that he s not a good some sence mate? We fans wants more youngsters in the game and we voice at our selectors to give more chances to young players....we have good players...we just need to give them a chance ....and can Swann become a legend like Murali????...well in another 1000 years!!....well I don't no why you compared like a Indian about cricket in lanka and county cricket? we have our own best layers in our own back yard.......and we have the experiance of playing county cricket ..the only reason is that all Aus/Eng/SA players are soo unlucky that they don't have a chance to paly in Subcon...he he..

Posted by anshu.s on (September 13, 2011, 8:32 GMT)

I am an Indian n don't know much abt SL bench strength but Paritvitarna,Samaraweera,P.Jayawardene(Excellent keeper ) but in poor batting form,S.Prassana n C.Walegedra need to removed n replaced by L.Thirimanne,B.Rajapaksa,D.Chandimal.R.Herath,S.Eranga.....what r the views of my Sri Lankan friends ??

Posted by   on (September 13, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

Our hope is a fitting tribute our Dear Sanga,

Posted by hris on (September 13, 2011, 8:28 GMT)

lucky sri lankans as always. now they have a chance to draw the series which they surely dont deserve. i hope oz drop johnson, im sick of his spray n pray approach. Pattinson is not the answer. We need to get Hazelwood, Cummins, Kane Richarson, and Ben Cutting into the squad. drop Haddin and get Wade in. paine is injured so hes not an option right now. I hope people stop questioning Hussey before every series. that guy is a modern great as good as any dravid, sanga, if anythying more versatile. can bat from 1 down to 7 in all there formats and be equally effective. Name any other players of whom u can say that. he can hit big shots if needed like a dhoni but then grind like a dravid or cook if the situation call for it. Can open too, u cant say that about a micheal bevan or a Eoin Morgan or even Dhoni. they just know one way.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (September 13, 2011, 8:05 GMT)

It wasn't Australia's bowling that won the match, it was Sri Lanka's batting that made them lose. The batting side is something to desperately worry about. Really hope Attapattu is finished working with Chandimal batting. He would be a better pick than HAPW Jayawardene as he averages over 50 in both ODIs and first class cricket. Welegedera should be axed and make room for one of the more experienced (why no Kulasekera/Thushara???)

Posted by Black_Rider on (September 13, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

@ landl47::Murali was not a legend when he came to play cricket.He went for plenty.He became a great blower because the opportunity was given to him..This was Prasanna's first match bro.He has skills.Even Greame Swann went for plenty in early days.So I hope selectors will give Prasanna more chances...

Posted by   on (September 13, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

Rain saved the Lankan's we have to win in Cbo and square series. Need following changes


Welagedera P Jayawardena Randiv


Eranga Chandimal Herath

Posted by   on (September 13, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

@Aidan, Meety. Because there is not lighting at all three of the test venues it was decided before the series began that lighting would not be used at all during the series. Seems very inflexible to me, but that's the reasoning...

Posted by   on (September 13, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

@Hyclass, not sure why you are digging into the SL attack so hard. Take Johnson out of the bowling attack and the Aussie lads wouldn't have 100 wickets between them either, that's not to say they're not good bowlers. Have you actually been watching the match? The SL lads bowled pretty well in my opinion, just look at the run rates, the Aussie bats were made to work pretty hard for their runs on what was quite a flat wicket. Only Hussey really got on top of them. I also recall you bigging up the SL leggie before the match on his first class record.. as you big up some of the Aussie batsmen on some of their first class records, you cannot then bag out the Sri Lankans because of their lack of test experience. I have seen many bowling attacks no better than the current Sri Lankan one. Certainly none of the West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or New Zealand look to be much better at the moment.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (September 13, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

Problem is that now, many players aren't playing county cricket and developing their test skills. They are focusing on T20 and limited over cricket. There is a huge cultural difference in this. In Aus/Eng, Test cricket is viewed as the top form of cricket there is. In the subcontinent (ind,pak,SL, bangla), Test is viewed as boring compared to the lucrative T20 and ODI format. I only see the subcontinent to do continuously worse in Tests as time goes on. In the future, the only good test matches will be between Eng/Aus/SA.

Posted by hyclass on (September 13, 2011, 6:18 GMT)

@landl47,its unlikely that that the SL competition is weak.If both batsmen AND bowlers have good 1st class averages,it implies a good standard.The SL Test team has 3 batsmen with averages over 50.Prasanna didnt get the opportunity to bowl at right handers,new batsmen,or to bowl last on a wearing wicket.You dont get his record without having talent.He was doing well in England for SL-A,with a 6/23 against England Lions,less than a month ago and he took 4 wickets against Australia in his 2 ODI and impressed as being extremely dangerous against new batsmen.Both Hughes and Marsh were playing very carefully on a benign wicket.Most of Prasannas overs were against set left handers.Even Warne went for runs sometimes.Id perservere with him.SL have no experienced bowlers.Batting was as easy as it can get for Australia and the bowling was well below Test standard.Its the pace attack that needs attention and they need Mathews,fit to bowl.Playing Eranga and Senanayake cant possibly make them worse.

Posted by crickstats on (September 13, 2011, 4:43 GMT)

Rain will intervene big time in Colombo too, its been dark and raining for the past week or so, according to local media Ajantha Mendis has feigned an injury and thus sent home.

Posted by mrgupta on (September 13, 2011, 3:51 GMT)

@Champagne_Cricket: Atleast we did not loose ODI series's at home and not on the verge of loosing the tests series too even after playing with full strength side. India had to play with only 3 bowlers in first 2 tests of this England series and then played with mostly injured players after that too. It was a streak of bad luck for us else this is the first time in 15 years that we have lost a series to England (home of Away). First time in 2 years for us that we failed to Win a test on an Away tour, by the way do you even remember when was the last time SL won a Test Match against a top team, home or Away?

Posted by Meety on (September 13, 2011, 2:33 GMT)

@AidanFX - from what I understand, (not 100% sure), it requires an agreement between boards to use lights during test matches. The last time India toured Oz, they declined. Most other countries touring Oz accept the use of lights. Not sure what the quality of the lighting is like in SL, but I assume wherever there is a Day/Night ODI played, the lighting should be close to test standard. @hyclass -correct re:Result Pitches. Ever since Tubby Taylor's men started scoring at 4rpo, drawn matches decreased. T20 influences may see that continue more so. That being said, there are "hot spots" for drawn matches, & they do tend to be in SL & India. This is not always the pitches fault, it can be in the culture of the teams playing. I remember in the mid 80s India were thrashing Oz in Oz, but lacked the bravado to go in for the kill. They were happy with nil all. What has happenned since Taylor's team, is that some pitches are losing spice (CEO strips), designed to go 5 days. Bit of a Grey area!

Posted by landl47 on (September 13, 2011, 2:02 GMT)

Before this game, all the Sri Lankan fans were imploring the selectors to pick S. Prasanna, who was going to be the great spin savior. Now that he's got 0-80, maybe Senanayke will be the magic answer? Face it, guys, SL doesn't have a decent bowler in the country. Senanayake has good figures, but only becuase he's played almost all his cricket in Sri Lanka, where the standard is not as high as, say, the English County League or the Sheffield Shield. SL should prepare batting pitches and hope for draws. On any pitch favoring the bowlers SL is at a hopeless disadvantage.

Posted by AidanFX on (September 13, 2011, 1:39 GMT)

It was frustrating that this match ended with so many overs remaining. You can't do much about rain but the ground had floodlights, yet due to some silly technicality - the lights could not be used. On a pitch that barely any wear and tear late in the match in a country that rains often it should be the prerogative on the ICC to ensure the possibility of a result is increased. The Australians put themselves in a position where they deserved to have a genuine crack at victory, on the other hand SL should have been made to work harder to earn a draw. Ending the match the way it did meant the possibility of an exciting finish was denied - this is not good for international cricket. If some grounds are better resourced than others; great exploit those resources if it helps the game carry on, the grounds that have less - get their standards up ASAP

Posted by hyclass on (September 13, 2011, 1:34 GMT)

The sheep factor is kicking in again.Previously,it was the,'Technique is more important than runs' bleating.Now,its the,'We need to create results pitches at Test level' bleating.Have any of them bothered to investigate their claims?None of it is supported by evidence.Before the Pallakelle Test Match,13 of the 19 Tests played this year,ended in a result. Thats 68%. Weather intervened in some series,like SL in England and this Test.It means that, weather permitting,most of the matches will end in a result. It completely validates the current ICC policy on pitches and kicks sand in the face of those who believe pitches,that vary extremely,from local conditions,like Galle,need to be prepared.There seems to be an idea,that the increasingly rare talent,in the face of obsessive 20/20,of concentrating,enduring and executing skills for long periods,as batsmen and bowlers have to do in Test cricket,somehow constitutes a failure.News flash.It is and always will be at the core of Test cricket.

Posted by hyclass on (September 13, 2011, 1:07 GMT)

The SL attack in this game is the weakest of all Test playing countries and one of the weakest ever to be fielded in a Test match.It went into this game with 40 combined wickets between the 4 front line bowlers from 19 tests at an average in the mid 40s,which is less than half as many as the next weakest-Zimbabwe.The Galle wicket overstated all the bowlers abilities and the selection panel was too easily fooled into persisting with mediocrity.It meant a run-fest for batsmen on a flat wicket.If ever there is a time for experimenting with players like Eranga,its when theres nothing to lose by doing so.That at least,could be seen as an attacking move.To put it in perspective,the 4 Zimbabwe frontline bowlers in their last Test had a combined 102 wickets.The 4 Bangladesh front line bowlers in their last Test had a combined 106 wickets.The inclusion of Prasanna has to be supported by a pace attack that lets him bowl last.That means bowling opposition out for smaller first innings totals.

Posted by   on (September 12, 2011, 22:14 GMT)

Actually Mendis injured his back earlier this year after the World Cup whilst bowling in County cricket. It arose possibly because of over-use / not taking a break. He continued to try to play with his injured back for poor returns and continued to take his injury through the English tour. It was clear there was something wrong by observing his reaction to taking the his last two wickets in the 5th One Dayer ( v Australia) when he was deadpan.

Posted by Nathan_123 on (September 12, 2011, 19:38 GMT)

The weather helped Srilanka from another defeat. I think the 3rd Test will be a draw as the batsmen from both sides will dominate this game.

Posted by Champagne_Cricket on (September 12, 2011, 17:44 GMT)

@Gerard, well said mate. Yes, its true that without Sangakkara and Jayawardena, Sri Lanka will struggle to beat Bangladesh. However, even with all the stars in the Indian side, it will be easy for Bangladesh to beat the present Indian team.

Posted by   on (September 12, 2011, 16:31 GMT)

It's a bad news that mendis is not fit to play the final test but herath's arrival will definitely strenth our bowling.prasanna jayawaradena's poor run in this tour may cost hir place and much spoken chandimal will play in the final test.though there is a talk with samaraweera's place in the team,he won't drop in the SSC.

Posted by   on (September 12, 2011, 16:27 GMT)

For all those SL fans having a pop at India minus Malinga and Murli Sri Lanka look pretty hopeless, Take away Sangakara and Jayawardene and Sri Lanka will struggle to beat Bangladesh

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (September 12, 2011, 16:19 GMT)

@Dilshan : u must be a canny,cool-minded,captain.don't show your disappointment during matches.we might get upset seeing ur dark-clouded face.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (September 12, 2011, 16:14 GMT)

@the chief Honourable SLselectors:- your highness, please select SACHITHRA SENANAYAKE.a swann-alike offie who has been doing well in first class cricket.His best figures is 8-70 against Aus-A team in Australia.we need a victory here.The die-hard sL fans are fed up watching our team being humiliated incessantly.(so am I).

Posted by Sinaha on (September 12, 2011, 15:41 GMT)

leave Dilshan and the whole pack of veterans out too.

Posted by AidanFX on (September 12, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

Oh great so the next test is set for a draw then - Aus to win 1 nil then??? Seriously what is with the extremities in these test wickets. The first Test had a first day wicket like a 5th day (but it did ease up a little late in the test); This test was just your typical flat wicket. Wtaching the fourth day on TV - I could hardly notice any wear and tear (contrary to Aus conditions), it looked like you could host a One Day match on the fourth day wicket. Seriously just a little balance would be nice. Now we here we are to have another batting wicket.

Posted by rukii on (September 12, 2011, 13:29 GMT)

As there is nothing for either spinners or fast bowlers in ssc pitch 3rd test match will be also drawn.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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Sri Lanka v Australia at Pallekele - Sep 8-12, 2011
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Sri Lanka v Australia at Galle - Aug 31-Sep 3, 2011
Australia won by 125 runs
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Sri Lanka v Australia at Colombo (RPS) - Aug 22, 2011
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