Saturday, 11 January 2014 08:32
ESPNCricinfo: Kaushal Silva narrowly missed a maiden hundred on day two in Abu Dhabi, but Mahela Jayawardene emphasised the value of Silva’s 95, which he said was as good as a ton. Silva forged a 139-run fourth-wicket stand with Jayawardene to help consolidate the advantage Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers had earned on day one, and had been the more fluent partner during their association.
Silva had also hit 81 in Abu Dhabi, his first Test since 2011, as he stepped into the opener’s role made vacant by Tillakaratne Dilshan. Silva has been a middle-order batsman for his first-class side, but Jayawardene lauded the work-ethic that has bred his success in a new position.
“Kaushal was unfortunate to miss a hundred,” Jayawardene said. “The little guy is batting really well. I’m very proud of him. He’s a clubmate of mine and he works really hard at his game. Good to see that he has shown the same kind of commitment at this level and he fully deserves what he has got. Two good knocks, but although he didn’t get a hundred, today’s knock was as good as a hundred. He batted through the pressure situations and carried the team in that time. He’s quite familiar getting big scores so I’m sure once he gets one he’ll continue to get a few more for us.”
Pakistan had only made 165 in the first innings, but Jayawardene joined Silva in a tense period, after Sri Lanka’s third wicket had fallen for 88. The pair scored at only 2.4 runs per over in the first 30 overs of their stand, as Pakistan bowled with discipline.
“There was a bit of pressure early on when I was batting with Kaushal. We talked and spoke of batting long, because the longer we batted and the more tired the bowlers got, the better chances we had of getting in the game.”
Jayawardene said the pitch also still posed difficulties for batsmen, despite only three wickets having fallen on day two. Sri Lanka finished the day 153 runs ahead, with six first-innings wickets still in hand.
“A first day wicket should have a little bit in it, and we were fortunate enough to win the toss and get the first use out of that. If you see, the new ball is still doing a bit. It’s a wicket that you don’t feel that you’re set all the time. There’s a little bit of spin for Saeed Ajmal as well. We had to really fight hard. Batting against Pakistan was not easy - they were not giving us easy runs. They bowled well in patches and we had to ride that through.”
Batting with three stitches after splitting the webbing between two fingers on his left hand on the first day, Jayawardene revealed why he had come in at No. 5, one place lower than his normal position.
“Last night, Dinesh Chandimal had been ready to bat at No. 4, so we didn’t want to change that too much this morning. I had already decided I would bat either 4 or 5 and not lower, because with my injury, I can’t go for too many big shots and that doesn’t help when you have to bat with the tail.”