They clung on with barely a stitch of clothing on them. Battered and bruised, with the Aussies baying for blood like rabid dogs, Sri Lanka have successfully avoided being rolled over inside four days with some OK batting and some extended thumb twiddling time.
I doubt this Test showed that Sri Lanka had any ‘character’. All it proved was that vague ‘law of averages’ theory. Sri Lanka has a good top order. In fact, they have some world class players in there – so it was only a matter of time before they got some runs.
They were lucky to not have lost a wicket on the fourth morning, when they played Ryan Harris like he was firebug who was throwing hand grenades at them.
The cost of not converting starts won’t be felt.
And at the last little joust, when Australia were closing in for the kill, they were handed a get out of jail free card.
I’m sure all these things will be discussed in team meetings and explored deeply with their sports psychologist, but Sri Lanka seem to be faced with fundamental problem that they can’t avoid. It is that this rebuilding Australian side, who – on paper – should have been put to the sword in foreign conditions, are actually quite a decent side.
I taunted Harris as the danger man before the series, but his impact has been far reaching than most have expected. He has moved the ball all day in all conditions, regardless of whether it’s old or new. And frankly, it has just been too hot for Sri Lanka to handle. Hussey has once again played point-man from where all of Australia’s batting has revolved.
Home or away, Sri Lanka cannot win a Test match with their 1st innings stage fright. The bowling runs out of ideas much faster than it would seem possible. At 116-3, it was an actual game. 200 whatever runs later it was more about hoping than trying.
While Clarke has had the upper hand on most days, he leads the side with street-smarts that many Australians dont think the media baby had. And Dilshan, whose captaincy relies more on instict and gut feel than anything else, falls short at the most crucial of times.
It isn’t just Sri Lanka’s batting that’s putting them 10 steps behind, it is the difference in attitude from the whole side. With Australia, there is a constant sniff for a way to get ahead. With Sri Lanka, the distraction is only a ball away.