Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, Colombo June 29, 2012

Sri Lanka won't play safe - Jayawardene


With Sri Lanka 1-0 up in the three-match series against Pakistan going into the second Test, the captain Mahela Jayawardene said his team will not adopt a defensive outlook as they chase their first Test series win in nearly three years. Jayawardene said it is not his style to play for a draw and that it is important to maintain the momentum gained from a comprehensive 209-run win in Galle.

"I don't play cricket like that. I play to win, including charity matches," Jayawardene said after a practice session at the Sinhalese Sports Club. "I try and influence that into my team as well. Playing safe is not going to win you matches or series. You have to be create that positive atmosphere from ball one. That's how you develop the culture of winning."

Sri Lanka clicked in all departments in Galle, shutting out Pakistan from the opening session, and building themselves a position from which they had the option of enforcing the follow-on. They have the chance to close out the series at the SSC, where they have not lost a Test since 2004, against Australia. Since then, the hosts have won six games and drawn five.

Going by the number of high scores at the ground in recent years, Jayawardene cautioned that the bowlers will have to be at their top to take 20 wickets. "Getting 20 wickets on this is hard work. It's a great place for a batsman to develop his game, but not so much for the bowlers," Jayawardene said. "We know Pakistan will come hard at us."

Though nobody in the squad is nursing an injury, Sri Lanka are in a quandary whether to retain their fastest bowler, Nuwan Pradeep, after the chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel cast doubts on whether Pradeep was fit enough to last consecutive Tests. Either Dilhara Fernando or Thisara Perera will replace him, should Sri Lanka force a change.

"It's not a bad headache to have. We need to think if we need to bring in an experienced bowler (Fernando)," Jayawardene said. "Thisara comes into the fold as well.

"Sometimes, the unknown quantity can surprise. A guy who hasn't played much may come in not overwhelmed by the occasion and have a great game. Those are factors you have to weigh in when you make a decision on the line-up."

Persistent injuries, particularly to the fast bowlers, have prevented Sri Lanka from fielding a settled bowling attack. While the batting line-up has plenty of experience, Jayawardene said there was still work to be done with the bowling.

"We are trying to develop a bowling attack that will hunt in a pack. We don't yet have the experience of a Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] or a [Chaminda] Vaas," he said. "We have Rangana Herath who has taken over the mantle after being Murali's understudy. Unfortunately, [Chanaka] Welegedera is injured."

Jayawardene had said at the start of the series that Sri Lanka's success would depend on how well his batsmen fared against Pakistan's bowlers. He said he was pleased with the progress so far, especially after their defeats in the Tests and ODIs in their previous encounter, in the UAE last year.

"I've seen it mentioned in a lot of places that it's their bowling versus our batting. We've probably won that battle until now. If we put runs on the board we will put their batting under pressure. In the UAE our batting didn't perform to expectations and that's why we lost."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lalith on July 2, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Paranawithana is gone. I want to see How over confident Mahela saves this test.

  • Lalith on July 1, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    Rain will win this test, IF SL do not bat with Over-Confidence. Mahela should score a double century for the Mess he did.

  • Lalith on June 30, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    This is called Over Confidence. Mahela should have batted first.

  • dani on June 30, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    @prasadGunawardane--agreed !!

  • Lalith on June 30, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    This is called Over Confidence. Mahela should have batted first.

  • Prasad on June 30, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Well i deny this point of Mahela that 'he and his team do not play safe Cricket'. Having it 472 on the board and having dismissed the opposition for 100 runs with a first innings lead of 372 in probably the best spinning pitch in the world; Mahela was not confident to ask Pakistan to follow-on. Instead he decided to collect some quick runs and make sure the safe victory. I would never think that any other captain would have done so, as he did in Galle at the 1st Test. Even he had Muralitharan in his bag, he could have not asked the opposition to follow-on. Now in this 2nd TEST, having won the toss with a great experience in SSC pitch over 15 years; Mahela got afraid for what you call slight movement in the first half an hour. Hence he decided to field first in a prime batting pitch where tons are always produced. Having analyzed all these scenarios, i would say Mahela always plays safe Cricket as a team.

  • sheryar on June 30, 2012, 10:14 GMT


  • Praveen on June 30, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    I have a doubt friends, any one clarify me please. Is this the same Randiv playing in the test matches who has deliberately bowled a no-ball Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Dambulla on 16th Aug 2010 ( Another doubt is, whether his action is legal or not??

  • Lalith on June 30, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    But he won the toss and put PAK in. What a mess he did. If SL batted first and put 500 the rest would have taken cared itself.

    I do not know how SL is going get out of this trouble

  • Kirkwood on June 30, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    Not play safe? I'll believe that when I see it. I haven't looked up the stats but it feels like every time I watch Sri Lanka play Test cricket it is about getting a big enough score to secure a draw. Winning just happens by chance.

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