x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sri Lanka eye testing lead as tourists batsmen are spun out

Mahela Jayawardene likes Sri Lanka's chances if they can score '50-80 more runs', and Ian Bell is lamenting that the England batsmen are letting their bowlers down.

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, says that perhaps another '50 or 80' more runs will be what they need to defeat England.
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, says that perhaps another '50 or 80' more runs will be what they need to defeat England.

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, expects to set England a tough run chase at some point today.

Sri Lanka resume this morning 209 ahead with five wickets in hand and Jayawardene, who dwarfed the efforts of every other batsman in this match with his first innings 180, does not believe too many more runs are needed to make life hard for their opponents.

"Hopefully we can get a few more on the board and have a good crack at it," Jayawardene said. "If we get another 50 to 80 runs ahead that would be good, anything more is a bonus."

Ian Bell conceded England's batsmen have let the bowlers down too often this year and need to step up today if they are to avoid going one down in the series.

After being dismissed for 193 on day two of the first Test, England have now been bowled out for less than 200 five times in seven innings in 2012.

Bell, who top scored with 52 for England yesterday, but struggled badly against Pakistan, accepts it is not good enough.

"It's a real shame and it's not through lack of effort but it's disappointing not to back up our bowlers," Bell said.

"We definitely let them down, no doubt. The bowlers will know it's not through a lack of preparation, sometimes it just happens like that. Our bowlers have been outstanding again for the fourth Test this winter.

"What we wanted to do was to give those bowlers a good rest, a bit like we did in Australia (in the 2010/11 Ashes).

"If you give them a day and a half relaxing they're going to come out (hard) again. In a way we let them down not to give them that time."

Bell also confronted England's continuing issues with playing slow bowlers in turning conditions. Having been bamboozled by Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman in the UAE, the tourists lost eight wickets to Sri Lankan spin - six to Rangana Herath and two to Suraj Randiv.

Bell was in an advance party that arrived in Sri Lanka ahead of the main group to work on his technique, but he acknowledges more hard work is needed.

"We're all trying to get better at playing spin. We all know we have to get better at playing in the subcontinent," he said. "It's a long-term goal and it isn't going to just happen overnight."

Jayawardene reserved special praise for Herath, who has taken to the unenviable task of replacing the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan.

"In the last 12 months since Murali retired, Rangana has taken the mantle of being our number one bowler," Jayawardene said.

"He has always been an understudy and when Murali is bowling at the other end, you don't get noticed much. But Rangana showed he has the experience now and he has the responsibility to lead a young attack."

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