Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 2nd day July 25, 2014

SA's slow approach could benefit us - Jayawardene

Sri Lanka learned of the perils of defensive cricket earlier in the year in Sharjah, when they batted cautiously through the Test, as they aimed to preserve their 1-0 series lead. On that occasion, Pakistan blew them away on the final day, wiping out four days of Sri Lanka's slow work.

As South Africa crawled at a run rate of 1.88 in the 52 overs they faced on day two, Mahela Jayawardene issued a warning to the opposition: negativity would only play into Sri Lanka's hands.

"The way the South Africans batted today - in 50 overs they scored only 90 runs - that is encouraging for us," he said. "That means our 400-plus looks like 550. I'm not sure how the wicket will play tomorrow evening and the fourth day, but we need to assess that and bat them out of the contest. But they've been pretty slow today, so as long as we can keep it nice and tight and create opportunities, we might not need that many runs."

Sri Lanka have fielded three spin bowlers in the match, with Kithuruwan Vithanage's part-time legspin also available, but Jayawardene suggested breakthroughs may not come all that easy, despite the wearing pitch.

"It's going to be hard work, but we've got to be patient and make sure we hold on to our catches when they come our way. Our attitude and focus has to be on those sessions. It will be tough to score runs as well. It's not coming on to the bat. The whole point of us playing three spinners was to try and see if we can get something out of it. Hopefully tomorrow morning we can put them under pressure. We've still got three days of cricket."

Jayawardene also defended the two young middle-order batsmen who had been dropped for this match, in favour of even fresher talents. Dinesh Chandimal had had three poor innings in Tests, in addition to a woeful run in limited-overs cricket, and now finds himself relegated to the Sri Lanka A team. Lahiru Thirimanne, meanwhile, has not seemed himself since becoming vice-captain ahead of the England tour, and was also left out at SSC.

"You do feel a lot for them. With the amount of cricket that we're playing these days, it's just that it's tough to try and be that consistent. We've all been through those bad periods. I think what the selectors are trying to do is give them a bit of a break. But they're still playing cricket. Chandi's in England now. There are a lot of opportunities coming up.

"I think they just need to take a bit of time, refocus and come back. They're still young. They've had good starts to their international careers. Everyone is trying to help them get through the tough times. Different players find their form in different ways and give them the right opportunities."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

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  • Dummy4 on July 26, 2014, 1:23 GMT

    Mahela was simply giving an opinion based on present match situation. I was at SSC whole day yesterday. Apart from Herath and Dilruwan, the efforts of Lakmal should be highly commended. In spite of pitch not offering him anything he bowled at a decent lively pace in mid to high 130s. I could hardly recognize any bad delivery. Even the one that dismissed du Plessis although angled down the leg side was a well thought out plan. Sri Lanka need few quick wickets in the morning session today. Hope to be there today as well.

  • Anura on July 26, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    SA has a very strong batting line up. It will be a daunting task for SL to bowl them out tomorrow with their two best batsmen still at the crease.

  • Khub on July 25, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    Mr. Mahela, i dont thing so opponent changes their mindset by opponent's comment now a days... no mat

  • c on July 25, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Krishnamohan: Haha. Not going to happen. Mahela's was just an opinion, not a fact. And SA is playing for a draw which is why even after Matthews spread the field to invite more attacking play they managed less than a 100 in over 50 overs. That against Herath who has not bowled well in Tests in a couple of years and 3 other bowlers who's bowling averages are what a decent middle order batsman would be proud of. SA is playig for a draw as, perhaps, they should since their stated GOAL is to regain their ICC ranking at #1. I don't think they ever lost it. They are still the best CURRENT team. Whatever.

  • Deon on July 25, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    The lions certainly are roaring. But SA's best batsmen are at the crease. They both have to be dismissed twice before SL can register a win. De Kock, Duminy and Philander are also still sitting in the dug out. This match is far from over.

  • Dummy4 on July 25, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    In the absence of Thirimanne, Chandimal and Lasith Malinga..... Mahela (DPMD) Jayawardene is the vice-captain of this SRI LANKAN TEAM......

  • siddhartha on July 25, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    Well tomorrow will be crucial. South Africa must bat out tomorrow

  • Dummy4 on July 25, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    This is an excellent tactic by Mahela. By saying this he might play on Saffas mind making them go hard at the bowling, there by increasing Sri Lanka's chances of picking up wickets!

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