Durban - There will likely be no let-up for
Sri Lanka's under-fire batting lineup in next week's second Test, with
rain in Durban on Friday hinting at another field day for South Africa's
buoyant fast bowlers.
Having been bowled out for 180 and 150 to
lose the first Test by an innings, Sri Lanka's misfiring batters look
set to face another green-tinged, seamer-friendly surface at Kingsmead
from Monday as they aim to fight their way back into the three-Test
contest and avoid a fourth straight series defeat.
captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said his team's underperforming top order - experienced as it is - was responsible for the poor recent run. The
skipper conceded the group was now suffering from a lack of confidence
as well as runs, leading to the tourists swapping training for
team-bonding sessions this week.
The Sri Lankans have not won in
15 Tests after falling to a heavy defeat in Centurion under an onslaught
from the Proteas' quicks to start their first long format tour of South
Africa in nine years in familiar fashion: the tourists have never won a Test here and are now 0-7 with one draw in South Africa.
Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene all
failed in the series opener with more expected, especially, of No 1 Test batsman Sangakkara and former captain Jayawardene. Recalled veteran
Thilan Samaraweera and allrounder Angelo Mathews fared slightly better.
was no excuse for the poor performances, Sri Lanka batting coach and
former player Marvan Atapattu said after Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn
ripped through the visitors lineup twice inside three days - not even a
long-running saga over Sri Lanka's players not being paid salaries for
"There have been more than a couple of batting
failures in the last six months or so," Atapattu said. "Obviously we
have had various issues but as of now there are no excuses. This is the
best, or let me put it this way, this is the most experienced six
batsmen we can have from Sri Lanka in test match cricket.
have put runs on the board earlier and it is their responsibility to put
runs on the board over and over again while they play for Sri Lanka.
Simple as that."
Sangakkara made 1 and 2 in the first Test,
although he was playing with a recently dislocated finger. Jayawardene's
run out in the second innings as he tried to scramble through for his
10 000th Test run highlighted his recent jitters despite a glittering
The stylish right-hander has a highest score of 39 in
his last eight Test innings, while Dilshan has one half-century in
"As a batting group we have to take the
responsibility, definitely," Dilshan said. "We have to put some runs on
the board, no doubt about that."
After two days of tough work at
altitude in Pretoria straight after the morale-sapping innings and
81-run loss in the first Test, Sri Lanka decided not to train earlier
this week down on the east coast in Durban.
Instead, the Sri
Lankans held a series of team meetings and dinners and focused on trying
to recover some of their confidence, which has been steadily seeping
away since the team's last Test win in July 2010.
victory over India 18 months ago, Sri Lanka drew against the Indians and
West Indies and lost to England, Australia and Pakistan. Dilshan has
dropped his first three series as captain without winning a match.
wanted to give a rest to the players to think about their game plan,
how they can lift their game for the next test match. We did some
team-building," Dilshan said on Friday of Sri Lanka's buildup to
Kingsmead. "Mentally we've discussed a lot of things in the last few
days. We've had meetings. Mentally, I think everyone is strong now."
At Centurion, Atapattu said there was only so much Sri Lanka's coaching staff could do to stop the slump.
we do outside the cricket field, analysing, getting them ready, giving
them enough practice is all about the support staff. But at the end of
the day, putting runs on the board is up to them," he said.