Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain, has said his team almost 'paid the price' for putting Pakistan in to bat in the second Test in Colombo. The Test ended in a draw, but Sri Lanka had come into the final day facing the possibility of being made to follow-on. The result meant Sri Lanka head to Pallekele with their 1-0 lead in the three-match series intact.
"It was a gamble in a way, but not a very good one, and we almost paid the price for that," Jayawardene said after the game. "Putting them [Pakistan] in, we hoped to get at least three to four wickets in that first session and try and get an advantage, which we couldn't. After that it was always going to be tough for us to get back into the Test match. We made a collective call [to bowl], but as captain I take responsibility."
Pakistan went on to pile up 551 in the first innings, before declaring, and Sri Lanka were always behind in the Test from there. This experience will serve Sri Lanka well in Pallekele, Jayawardene said. "Pakistan came back at us in this Test match and they probably feel confident that they finished on top of us. But it's a different wicket [in Pallekele] and it's good for us knowing where we are right now.
"We need to push ourselves harder and find a way of winning that Test match. We need to be more sharp in executing certain game plans, and make sure we don't allow their top-order to dominate so easily and try and create more pressure."
Apart from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, who scored big hundreds in Sri Lanka's first innings, Jayawardene said Mathew's knock was a positive for the hosts. "Those two guys [Sangakkara and Dilshan] stand out for us at the top of the order. They batted really well where the others didn't click, and spent time out there in the middle.
"Angelo batted positively and we would have loved him to bat through and get a big one. [But] the time he spent [batting] he looked really in control. That's what we wanted from him batting in that position as the last two sessions were a psychological battle; both teams were trying to get on top of each other there wasn't much for us to gain from that situation."
Jayawardene said Pakistan quick Junaid Khan, who added a bit of drama to the match with his five-for, is a 'handful'. "From what we've seen of Junaid, he's definitely got the talent. He is like any other Pakistani bowler - he knows what to do with the older ball and create angles, so he is a handful.
"You have to give credit to Junaid, he came back with a purpose after lunch [on the final day] and bowled good areas and created opportunities, and all of a sudden we lost three-four wickets very quickly. That was disappointing [for us], but credit should go to the Pakistanis for the way they reacted and challenged us."