Coach hopeful Mahela’s poor run will end



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Rex Clementine
reporting from Melbourone


It’s been more than three years since Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene scored a half-century, away from home in Test cricket.


In his last 25 Test innings out of Sri Sri Lanka, Jayawardene has not scored a 50 and lack of contributions from the number four batsman has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s struggles overseas. As a result, for the first time in a long time, Mahela’s average is now below 50.


Former captain and the team’s batting coach Marvan Atapattu felt that there were no technical issues with his former team-mate and was confident that a big knock is just around the corner.


"It’s easy to pinpoint and say that a person who has scored more than 10,000 runs in Tests that he has a technical fault now. We are aware of the stats, but there is nothing wrong with his batting. He did not bat any differently when he started his career. It’s just that there have been deliveries that he is chasing a bit more than he normally does early in his innings. Hopefully, he won’t do that in the next three innings in the series," Atapattu told journalists, yesterday.


Sri Lanka’s batting has struggled in recent times with the team unable to post a decent first innings score. Playing a Boxing Day Test match after 17 years, Sri Lanka were bowled out for a paltry 156 in their first innings, with several batsmen falling to poor shots.


"It’s unfortunate on big day like yesterday (Wednesday) that we failed to deliver. It was indiscipline and shot selection was not up to the mark and I hope that it will be rectified in the second innings. We got the batsmen who are capable enough to make big scores and get some good partnerships going. Hopefully, they will get it right in the next innings."


"As batting coach, my role is to throw as much options as possible. The options that I throw out will improve their game and help them make more contributions to the team. Other than that, to make drastic technical changes is not my job at this level."


Another area that Sri Lanka were not up to the mark was in their catching. Although a few stunning outfield catches were pulled off, dropped catches off Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, when both batsmen were on five, saw Sri Lanka paying a heavy price as the two batsmen put on a record 194 run stand for the fourth wicket.


"It’s all part of the game. Nobody intends to drop a catch on a cricket field. What has happened has happened, it’s unfortunate that we let them off the hook yesterday when we had them three down before Clarke got on to his stride and Watson after that. If we had only held onto those two catches, it would have been a different story. But that’s the way it goes. We have only ourselves to blame."


Atapattu is one of eight Sri Lankans to have scored a Test century in Australia, but despite playing Test cricket for 15 years, he never got an opportunity to play a Test match at the MCG, considered Australia’s sporting capital.


"It is disappointing at the end of the day. I firmly believe that there are things that go your way and things that don’t go your way. It is one of those unfortunate things that happened in my life that I couldn’t play a Test match at the MCG. But for 17 years, we haven’t played a Test at the MCG and I only played 15 years of cricket."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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