Island Cricket

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ian Chappell: Middle-order fails Sri Lanka

Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Hobart, 3rd day

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(Courtesy of www.cricinfo.com)


Ian Chappell: Well, the Australians had a very good day. They have dominated with the bat and with the ball they have worked hard and bowled particularly well.

Brett Lee led the attack and got things under way for Australia. He bowled a magnificent delivery to get rid of Michael Vandort - an inswinging yorker. The two [Sri Lankan] openers had survived last night and had looked good in doing it. But once Lee got this one through [the ball] Vandort, it opened the floodgates for Australia.

One of the things that has happened with the retirement of [Glenn] McGrath, [Shane] Warne, [Justin] Langer and Damien Martyn [is that] the catching of the Australians and their fielding, to a degree, has slipped. Stuart MacGill and Phil Jaques [are] not as good in the field as the players they have replaced. So a few chances went down. The first opportunity was a disputed catch - Michael Hussey wasn't sure if he'd caught [Kumar] Sangakkara in the gully. They sent it up to the third umpire, [but] it was inconclusive evidence and so Sangakkara got a reprieve.

[Marvan] Atapattu was well caught by Michael Clarke in the slips and then [there was] a good partnership between Sangakkara and [Mahela] Jayawardene. [After] Sangakkara got the benefit of doubt, he was then dropped by Adam Gilchrist - a catch that should have been taken. Sangakkara, as you would except, having not played a lot of cricket in the lead-up, was struggling for form and touch. But eventually, after he got to around 25-30 [runs], [his] feet started to move, he hit the ball in the middle and he was looking good. He got to 50 and he's the sort of player that you would expect to go on and get a big one. Then he played a poor shot to Mitchell Johnson. [He was] looking to force the ball off the backfoot - force it behind point - which is always dangerous in Australia with the extra bounce and he holed out to Hussey in the gully.

Jayawardene played really well. The Sri Lankan captain is a tough bloke. He hasn't got the best record against the Australians and he looked determined to do something about that. He was on 69 when [Lasith] Malinga came to the crease. So it looked as though he would miss out on this opportunity to get his 100. But Malinga did well. He survived and battled hard for his captain and eventually he [Jayawardene] got the 100 he wanted against Australia.

Unfortunately, it was a lone battle [with] poor shots in the middle-order. [Sanath] Jayasuriya [looked] totally out of sorts. [He was] bowled by MacGill. [Chamara] Silva attempted to cut one that bounced. He was out quickly and the middle-order fell away. Prasanna Jayawardene, the keeper, edged a good one from Stuart Clark and the Australians ran through the middle order.

I'm sure the partnership between Malinga and Jayawardene, the captain, convinced Ricky Ponting not to enforce the follow-on even though he [his team] was leading by nearly 300. The Australians went out in an aggressive mood. Matthew Hayden was a bit over aggressive. He played a few slog shots early on and eventually he was out to [Muttiah] Muralitharan - lbw.

The Australians have added to their lead by over a 100 runs and I am sure that they will play till around lunch tomorrow. And the way they're going, it could mean that Sri Lanka [will be] chasing anywhere between 550 and 600.

The Australians are bowling extremely well. Lee led the attack, Clark bowled very well without a lot of luck, Johnson has been tidy and MacGill - who's been turning the ball quite a bit - will the trouble the Sri Lankans more in the second innings.

But the man the Sri Lankans cannot get past is Lee, who's leading the attack brilliantly.

So the Australians truly on top in the second Test.

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