'Got to be better at decision-making' - Lehmann

Australia's batsmen were guilty of poor decisions to squander their first innings advantage and begin the slide to defeat against Sri Lanka at Pallekele, while the left-arm spinner Jon Holland is all but assured of a Test debut in Galle. The coach Darren Lehmann offered these conclusions as he set about working with the captain Steven Smith to keep the tourists in the series and atop the world rankings.

Lehmann has always emphasised the need for big first-innings runs, and noted that the bowlers claimed 20 wickets so could be seen to have done something like their best job in the first Test. He was far more critical of his batsmen, who fell in a rush on the second morning and left Australia with a first-innings lead of only 86 - not enough to safeguard against a brilliant innings by Kusal Mendis and exposure to Rangana Herath. Smith's second innings response, to play within his limitations and look for ones and twos, was closer to what Lehmann wanted.

"They've got to be better at decision-making. The disappointing thing was we gave up a big lead," Lehmann said of his batsmen. "We should've made more runs in the first innings. We let them off the hook there. The positive was we got 20 wickets again. If we keep getting 20 wickets, it gives you a good chance that if your batters are making runs to win games of cricket.

"That was the pleasing thing for us, especially when we had a bowler down in the second innings. And there's enough upside there that we know we're on the right path with the type of team we want to play. It gets down to just the execution against their spinners really. We've been very good at first-innings runs in the last 12 months, and that was the big challenge. Your first-innings runs set up games, and that was what we needed to do.

"I thought some of the guys really applied themselves better in the second innings than the first. Probably decision-making cost them at the end of the day. That sort of innings was very good from Steven. The wicket might be different batting first here at Galle, if you win the toss. I think it'll still spin from day one, but it just is what it is."

The Australians were repeatedly hit on the pads or bowled by Herath deliveries that skidded on, much as they were by Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar in the UAE against Pakistan in late 2014. Too often the batsmen misread the length and were caught trying to defend deliveries they did not get to the pitch of, and Lehmann said this had been a matter for repeated discussion.

"Well, when they're getting hit on the pads, it's probably not spinning," Lehmann said. "I think we had the problem in Dubai with Zulfiqar. So we've addressed that, we addressed in Dubai, obviously a different playing group, we addressed it before the series here. They've just got to get better at it. [Herath] Bowled at the stumps. Consistently at the stumps. Something that we've got to do.

"I can't remember a better preparation. I know that sounds a bit silly when you get bowled out for 200 and 160. I think the batters are in a really good space, probably their decision making wasn't quite up to scratch in this Test match - well, it wasn't up to scratch. We had starts but no-one go on with it, we had partnerships but no one had a big one, which is something we have done really well in the last 12 months - we have had big partnerships. That's a challenge for the batting group, getting through those tough times.

"Now they have seen [Lakshan] Sandakan, it is going to be a lot easier to play and Herath is obviously a very quality bowler. They have got to work out a plan. We have talked about it a lot so they know what to do, it's just executing more than anything else."

Holland met the Test squad on their arrival into Galle on Sunday, and can expect a rapid promotion from Victoria's Sheffield Shield final team, to Australia A in Brisbane, to a baggy green in Sri Lanka in the place of the injured Steve O'Keefe. "He's obviously a very crafty left-arm spinner," Lehmann said. "We obviously had that loss of SOK in the second innings which hurt us. But injuries happen so you can't complain about that.

"He's tall, he's got good shape on the ball, he bowls at a decent pace. I'm sure he'll have success here. We think it's a really good way to go. We'll have to wait and see what the wicket is, but I'm pretty sure we'll play two spinners again. He's always been thought of really highly. Especially with the Shield final - he ended up with eight for the game and he bowled very well. So his record when he's up and fit has been excellent, he's just had a lot of injuries the last few years."