Sri Lanka spinners came under fire once again just as they did in Bangladesh, where Australia hammered 215 runs in 43 overs on day two and went on to take a lead of 109 runs, which proved to be enough to seal them a ten wicket win in the 1st Test in Galle.
Lasith Embuldeniya who bowled in tandem with Ramesh Mendis when play resumed at 1.45 p.m. on day two, could not bowl a clear line and length and was attacked by the Australians, while Mendis’ hard work at the other end wasn’t bearing fruit during that period.
Embuldeniya finished with none for 73 in 15 overs, while Jeffrey Vandersay, who bowled well, was targeted by Pat Cummins who smashed him for a couple of sixes. He ended up yielding 68 for 2 in 10 overs. Mendis was skipper Dimuth Karunarathne’s go to bowler and claimed four wickets for 112 runs off 32 overs.
“We knew what we were getting. Our spinners failed to put pressure on the opposition. We failed to push them. We found their spinners put pressure on us and made life difficult. Batters had to score runs and put pressure, but when they are bowling well it is difficult. Their batters fared pretty well. We missed out on 50 runs with the bat and gave away 50 more and we need to learn from these things,” said SL head coach Chris Silverwood after the match.
It was also baffling to see Dhananjaya de Silva, who bowled just two overs at the start of play and picked up the wicket of Travis Head, wasn’t utilized thereafter. He finished with 1 wicket for 8 runs in five overs.
Spin bowling coach Piyal Wijethunga admitted Sri Lanka made mistakes.
“Bowling is about partnerships. I don’t think we did that today (Thursday). When Ramesh was bowling well, I thought we could have used DDS more. I thought we under-bowled DDS. Then it could have been a lot more different,” said Wijethunga.
Wijethunga has been Sri Lanka’s spin bowling coach for a decade now.
Both Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama looked good when they were inducted into the team, but were ineffective later, while Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva’s Test debut did not take off as planned.
“The issue with Lasith started in Bangladesh. Prior to that he had done pretty well in the West Indies series. After he bowled yesterday, I had a chat with Lasith. He bowled well in training. The problem is when he goes out to battle. It’s a matter of handling the pressure I feel. The Bangladesh set back may be working in his head. The Head Coach had a chat too. He had a chat with a few players. When something of this sort happens, the player has to sort it out. A spinner, more than a fast bowler or a batter, needs to be mentally strong. We need to address that issue. However, there is a slight improvement,” added Wijethunga.
Meanwhile Silverwood highlights more than bowling it was Sri Lanka’s batting against spin which resulted in the crushing defeat.
“We saw Aussies use the sweep well. Joe Root did it well (in SL). We need to do it on turning wickets. There are other things that we need to do like getting to the ball and using the feet well. I am not going to discourage it, I am going to encourage it,” said Silverwood.