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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Sri Lanka bowling inconsistent to keep India’s batsmen at bay - Mahela

CRICKET: In one of the most disappointing ODI series in recent times manned by skipper Mahela Jayawardena who has conceded a 4/0 lead to the hands of the strong Indian team in the five match series, he will have to find a dependent formula to deprive India going for the clean sweep and salvage some pride when the fifth and final One day match begins to day (a day-match) at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

It is clear when comparing the two teams, that India are far superior in all three departments of the game. The Indian front-liners showed that they could build big scores through useful partnerships. But the same cannot be said about the Lankan batsmen. Besides, Sanath Jayasuriya’s century in the first Dambulla match and Sangakkara’s 84 in the third ODI at the R. Premadasa Stadium, the inability of almost all the batsmen to make a challenging total gave India a huge advantage. It seems that the middle order looks creaky and handing over two many `dot’ balls to the Indians which was another reason for the defeat. Another set-back for the home team was that Ajantha Mendis could not produce the same magic that undid the Indians some months ago in the first three ODI’s he played. Mendis was rested for the fourth game and Muralitharan too, could not contribute with many wickets which gave the Indians the upper hand.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardena said that his team had played some good cricket, but wasn’t good enough to beat the Indians. He admitted at the same time that they made mistakes while batting, bowling and fielding.

“It is difficult to beat a team like India who are playing very good cricket right now while making all those mistakes, that is something we really need to focus on,” said the Sri Lankan captain. Referring to losing the toss on all four occasions, Jayawardena said that we cannot complain about it as that’s how the game goes on.

“The wicket looks pretty good in the first half of the innings and then tends to slow down and the spinners gets the advantage and it tends to spin more under lights, so unfortunately we haven’t won the toss in any of the matches. However at the same time while batting second we had our opportunities we came close in the second game in beating them, so when you get those kinds of opportunities you need to do that and finish the game off, so that it pressurises them, but in the whole series we were unable to insert the pressure on them.”

Jayawardena said that he would be lieing if he says that some players are not tired after so many tours, specially the bowlers who had a heavy work-load during the last four weeks in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the present time. We have obviously to think about the two Tests on Pakistan tour, some players are tired, but if you ask them they would not admit the fact as they are keen to beat India because they know India is a good side and that’s part and parcel of International cricket. Right now and one cannot just complain, but we have to move on.

Referring to Ajantha Mendis who could not make a big impact as he did when the Indians were here last time Jayawardena said that “What we got to realise is that during the last six months we played India quite a few times, the Asia Cup and the Indian series here and again the ODI series here and obviously they have seen quite a bit of Ajantha and in this short period of time they have been able to play him a bit better than what they used to. That happened to `Murali’ as well, when he came into the scene, they found how `Murali’ had gone about, changing his pace, variations and doing different things. Ajantha will learn as well. He is still young, just 23, and the more matches he plays he will continue to surprise many batsmen”, said Jayawardena.

When the Indians arrived for the 5 ODI series, Jayawardena was aware of their strength and ability as they had beaten Australia and England.

“They had defeated Australia in Australia and England 5/0 in India. So, they have been playing very good cricket and consistent. We knew it’s going to be a tough challenge even though we were playing at home. We tried our best, but it was not good enough, in the sense, we were not playing to our true potential making mistakes in the field.

Bowling hasn’t been consistent and at the same time the batsmen although getting runs, were not getting big scores.

When you got to beat a quality opposition like India, all those ingredients should come together and we have not managed to muster it’. In the final game today, hopefully, we should get a good wicket, play to our true potential and eradicate all the mistakes we have been committing so far in the final game.

Today we have to play for our pride. We need to concentrate on the job in hand and give off our best before we go to Pakistan”, concluded Jayawardena.

Teams

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardena (Captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, T. M. Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Thilina Kandamby, Angelo Mathew, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekera, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Jehan Mubarak, Thilina Thushara Mirando, Dammika Prasad.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan.

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