Island Cricket

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ian Chappell - Sri Lankans fought hard

The Sri Lankans fought hard on the fourth day, and with a little bit of help from the weather they have pushed the game into the fifth day.

Michael Vandort who has underpinned the innings, and he looked a totally different player on the fourth day than what he looked on the third evening. He looked as though he was well and truly out of his depth on the third evening struggling against the Australian bowlers. But, on the fourth day he came out with renewed confidence. I don't know whether the controversy over Marvan Atapattu's comments where he called the selectors muppets and said that they had a joker in charge. I don't know whether that livened up the Sri Lankan dressing room, but it certainly had the desired effect out on the field, because they played with a lot of resolution.

Michael Vandort, as I said, was terrific in defence. He has got lot of concentration and he has got a lot of good attributes. The Sri Lankans may down the track think about him as an opening batsmen, because he seems to be very good in defence, needs to improve his running between the wickets, he is not a good runner and he needs to pick up a few more singles to take his game to another level. But he certainly showed that he doesn't lack the concentration and determination. He really played extremely well, and along with his skipper [Mahela] Jayawardene they really did not look like getting out. It was a good session for them, and it looked as though they had a really good chance of saving the game.

Eventually they lost the wicket of the skipper, Mitchell Johnson coming back and he got Jayawardene of the ball angling across him, as he edged through to the wicketkeeper. A bit of problem for Jayawardene against Australia, he has only made just one fifty and in this occasion he fell one run short. He has made only one fifty against Australia in 16 innings, and in those sixteen innings he has been caught behind seven times, and that is way too much for the player of his class. But he had fought very hard in this partnership with Vandort.

Not long after that it was 200th wicket for Stuart MacGill. He has toiled hard on a pitch that isn't offering a lot to any of the bowlers - it's been a very very good Test match pitch, despite the fact that there has been a bit of rain around it has played extremely well. Eventually, Stuart MacGill spun one a mile, went through the defence of Vandot, his defence was down and MacGill had his 200th wicket. A great landmark for a bowler who has got there in a hurry. Vandort out for 82 falling just short of his century. Then [Thilan] Samaraweera also falling to Johnson, hit the ball pretty hard but he hit it in the air and Michael Hussey grabbed it in the second attempt.

Then, there were showers, there were scurrying showers on and off, and then late in the afternoon we got a pretty heavy shower and then the light deteriorated. And eventually the umpires decided to call it off. So Sri Lanka at this point have managed to push this game into the fifth day and they fought extremely hard on this fourth day. Five wickets down now and their chances of saving the match are probably not, although they would be inspired by the weather forecast which says that there are going to be showers tomorrow morning.

So the Sri Lankans, at least now, must feel that they have a slight outside chance of leaving the Gabba at nil all. But I still think that the Australians will eventually push through and win this match.

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