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'We're trying to be as proactive as we can' - Nathan Hauritz

Ireland's spin-bowing coach says tighter lines and fuller lengths can help their spinners fare better in the second Test

George Dockrell managed just one wicket and conceded more than five runs an over in the first Test  •  AFP/Getty Images

George Dockrell managed just one wicket and conceded more than five runs an over in the first Test  •  AFP/Getty Images

In the first Test, Ireland's spinners managed three wickets in 85.3 overs. By comparison, Sri Lanka's spinners claimed 15 wickets in 85.4 overs.
This was the biggest difference between the sides, and it is this chasm that Ireland's spin-bowling coach Nathan Hauritz is charged with closing, ahead of the second Test. Being more consistent with tighter lines and fuller lengths was one route to improvement, Hauritz said. But so was winning the toss and bowling in friendlier conditions, on a worn track.
"About 75% of their deliveries were getting us play off the front foot," Hauritz said. "Admittedly the wicket was turning a bit more day two and day three when they were bowling. But if you're not going to make them play off the front foot - the wicket's too slow - they could sweep, or use their feet. We've addressed that. What matters is how they overcome it when the pressure's on.
"It's Andy Balbirnie's first time captaining against two of the best Test-playing countries. It's not just a simple matter of putting the ball in the right spot. You've got to know when to take advantage of the momentum, and know when to wind back. We're trying to be as proactive as we can. That's challenging when you're bowling first on day one and the ball's not moving off the straight. The bowling needs to be more consistent. That's a challenge coming from North County at minus two/ minus four degrees.
"What I will say is though if we get the opportunity to bat first and put a score on the board, I back our spinners to create a lot of problems. But bowling first in these conditions is the hardest thing you can ever do as a spinner. And the wicket was incredibly flat. It was about trying to hang in. We have been here (in South Asia) six or seven weeks, so we should be pretty well acclimatised. But in Sri Lanka it sucks it out of you - you need to hang in there and outlast them."
Part of Ireland's challenge, which Sri Lanka's players also acknowledged at the end of the first Test, was to move away from limited-overs style field settings with the spinners in operation. Hauritz reflected on how well Sri Lanka had done that in the first Test.
"If you're putting 10 out of 10 balls in one spot, and one spins and one doesn't, it becomes very challenging to face," he said. "Over here, you don't need to do anything fancy. It's very boring work. You're able to create that pressure with the fields, and the heat, and everything gets on top of you.
"As soon as a batting group you start to get on top, they, as a bowling group, change the fields. You see someone like Lorcan Tucker - as soon as he starts to sweep they put men out. They don't change the way they bowl. They just keep doing the same thing and they make you change.
"I have no doubt that being exposed to these conditions will help our spinners, but it'll also help our batters play spin, moving forward."

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