COLOMBO, SRI LANKA // Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, and MS Dhoni, the India captain, both had sympathy for their beleaguered bowlers after the run-filled second Test ended in a tame draw yesterday. Nearly 1,500 runs were scored for the loss of only 17 wickets during five days of cricket. Five players made centuries in the match while India's first-innings score of 707 was their highest on foreign soil.
Sri Lanka declared their second innings at 129 for three yesterday and with no time to engineer a result, the captains decided to end the match just 13 overs after tea on the final day. "This was a placid track, nothing really for the fast bowlers," Dhoni said. "Under the conditions, if the captain loses the toss that's the biggest crime one can do. Losing two tosses and bowling on a fresh wicket, the bowlers did decently well.
"If there's a bit more turn - if not for the fast bowlers but for the spinners - it would make things interesting. It doesn't have to be a bouncy or seaming track. It just needs to be a sporty track." Bayliss concurred. "Hats off to the bowlers," he said. "To take 10 wickets I thought was a big effort. It's a good sign for the future." Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, felt his bowlers had put in an "impressive" performance. Ajantha Mendis snapped up four wickets, while part-time spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan grabbed figures of three for 56 in his 27 overs.
"It was hard work for the bowlers," Sangakkara said. "But our guys impressed today. We were always on the attack, always had catchers around the batsmen and we didn't let anything slip. "There are a lot of positives to take regarding our batting and bowling in this Test. We probably need to brush up a bit on our fielding. It's hard to keep concentration out there for long periods of time, but you have to be fit enough to do that. A half-chance for a wicket on a track like this is really important. The crowds like to see an even contest between bat and ball. Unfortunately that wasn't the case before this Test match."
Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0 going into the final test starting on Tuesday at Colombo's P Saravanamuttu Stadium, and, providing they can win, can climb to second in the International Cricket Council world Test rankings. "The third Test, we'll be looking to win that one and win the series 2-0," Sangakkara said. "Obviously being 1-0 up is a good position to be in." Dhoni, meanwhile, is confident India can salvage the series next week. "We've got plenty of learning from the last two Test matches to do," he said. "So let's hope for the best in the third game." * Agencies
Sri Lanka (1st innings) 642-4 dec India (1st innings, 669-9 overnight): I Sharma c Sangakkara b Fernando 27 P Ojha not out 18 Extras: (b-9, lb-7, nb-13, w-4) 33 Total: (all out, 225.2 overs) 707 Bowling: Prasad 22-2-101-0 (5-nb), Fernando 31.2-1-116-1 (5-nb, 3-w), Mathews 9-1-24-0 (1-w), Randiv 73-16-222-2, Mendis 63-10-172-4 (3-nb), Dilshan 27-6-56-3. Sri Lanka (2nd innings): T Paranavitana c Laxman b Singh 34 T Dilshan c Sharma b Mithun 14 K Sangakkara not out 42 M Jayawardene lbw b Sehwag 5 T Samaraweera not out 10 Extras (b-8, lb-8, nb-8) 24 Total (three wickets, 45 overs) 129 Fall of wickets: 1-50, 2-73, 3-97 Bowling: Mithun 6-1-17-1, Sharma 4-0-31-0 (6-nb), Sehwag 9-1-17-1 (1-nb), Singh 13-0-35-1, Ojha 13-6-13-0 (1-nb).