Perth: Mahela Jayawardene, in his first match back as Sri Lanka captain, made an interesting move in not picking a specialist spinner. Sri Lanka lost a close match, but Jayawardene did not think the team combination was the reason. "If we had taken the last four wickets, you would have said, 'good combination'. We felt the pitch was such that four seamers would probably do the job for us. Picking up wickets is very crucial against India. We went with bowlers we thought could do that."
The move seemed erroneous because the India spinners bowled well and got assistance from the pitch. Between them, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja went for 73 runs in their 20 overs and picked up four wickets. "Ashwin bowled really well," Jayawardene said. "But he is Ashwin; a tall bowler. We go with what strength we have got. We try and work on those areas, have a game plan and try to execute that.
"The bowling unit did a pretty good job. Thisara [Perera] wasn't up to the mark today. If he had been, another couple of wickets might have meant anything. Angie [Angelo Mathews] bowled really well, Dhammika [Prasad], all of those guys. I think where we went wrong was that we fell 30-40 runs short of a good total. We had a good start and just had to have one more big partnership to get to 260-270. That was our target, which we fell short of."
Sri Lanka had two half-century partnerships, three of their batsmen got starts, but no one kicked on to make a matchwinning contribution. "I thought it was a good game of cricket," Jayawardene said. "Yes, we made a few mistakes with the batting. Small partnerships probably held us back. Other than that it was a good effort. We executed a lot of our plans."
In the big picture, considering what turmoil Sri Lankan cricket is going through, a competitive showing first-up in the Commonwealth Bank Series was not too bad a start. "We have had quite a few meetings since arriving in Australia," Jayawardene said, "trying to cultivate a few things we want in the team: the thinking process, and getting the guys to take more responsibility and be freer out there when playing cricket.
"Even today we feel we can take quite a bit from the game. The attitude, the hunger they had on the field, the fielding was fantastic, the bowling was very aggressive, which was great. Hopefully we can continue to do the good things and improve in the areas we need to."