Lankan bowlers urged to work in tandem
SRI LANKA's only day-one wicket-taker, Chanaka Welegedara, says he and his teammates must start bowling well in partnerships, rather than just in isolation, to prevent Australia's batsmen extending their solid batting form well into day two.
Left-armer Welegedara claimed three wickets but was also clearly his team's most expensive bowler, conceding just under five runs per over on a day Australia scored at 3.3 per over. He was also the culprit in Sri Lanka sparing top-scorer Phillip Hughes for 77, because he clearly overstepped the crease and was called for a no-ball by umpire Tony Hill.
The 31-year-old said the Bellerive Oval pitch, expected to be tricky for batsmen early in the match, had given little assistance to he and his fellow paceman, at until mid-way through the day.
"In the morning we didn't get anything from the wicket. After lunch, we got a good advantage on the wicket," he said. "There as a bit of seam [movement] after lunch. I don't know about the other bowlers but I got a good advantage."
In the middle of the day Welegedara bowled an unbroken spell of nine overs. While that stint included the Hughes blunder, which he described as "the most disappointing moment" of the day for the visitors, it also included the scalps of Shane Watson for 30 and, eventually, Hughes for 86.
The left-armer defended the seamers' habit of overstepping on day one. By the eighth over he and new-ball partner Nuwan Kulasekera had already bowled four no-balls, with the team finishing day one with 10, including the instance with Hughes that was so clear it was called immediately by umpire Tony Hill and did not have to verified by the video umpire.
"I think that can happen . . . that's normal," he said.
Welegedara said the team was generally happy with its performance but conceded the bowlers had performed well only "in patches" and not in partnerships.
Hughes expressed similar sentiments, that there were periods of the day where each of the three seamers, all-rounder Angelo Mathews and primary spinner Rangana Herath had bowled well without any of them dominating.
"They all had their tail up at a different time. There was no-one that really stood out," Hughes said.
Welegedara said the team was optimistic that if it could get one or both of Clarke and Hussey early on day two - they will resume, respectively, on 70 and 37 - then it could limit Australia to a first-innings score of under 400.
Hughes said he expected pitch conditions would be conducive to a result.
"It was a little bit slow but overall it was a decent wicket," he said. "There was a couple that kept low . . . so it could play tricks later on in the game, which could make for a very good Test-match wicket."