Mahela: Batting will only get tougher

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Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene feels South Africa's batsmen have made their chase look a lot tougher than it needed to be, and have increased the value of Sri Lanka's first innings score.

Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene feels South Africa's batsmen have made their chase look a lot tougher than it needed to be, and have increased the value of Sri Lanka's first innings score.

Sri Lanka made 421 in Colombo, all out in the afternoon on day two, and the Proteas reached 98 for three at stumps, batting at less than two to the over. Jayawardene felt batting would just get tougher as the game went on.

Mahela, who scored 165, said after day two: "The way the South Africans batted – in 50 overs they scored only 90 runs – that is encouraging for us. That means our 400-plus looks like 550.

"I'm not sure how the wicket will play (on day three) and the fourth day, but we need to assess that and bat them out of the contest.

"But they've been pretty slow, so as long as we can keep it nice and tight and create opportunities, we might not need that many runs.

"It's going to be hard work, but we've got to be patient and make sure we hold on to our catches when they come our way. Our attitude and focus has to be on those sessions.

"It will be tough to score runs as well. It's not coming on to the bat. The whole point of us playing three spinners was to try and see if we can get something out of it."

Jayawardene then expressed confidence that dropped batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal would soon be back to top form, despite recent disappointments: "You do feel a lot for them.

"With the amount of cricket that we're playing these days, it's just that it's tough to try and be that consistent. We've all been through those bad periods. I think what the selectors are trying to do is give them a bit of a break.

"But they're still playing cricket. Chandi's in England now. There are a lot of opportunities coming up. I think they just need to take a bit of time, refocus and come back.

"They're still young. They've had good starts to their international careers. Everyone is trying to help them get through the tough times. Different players find their form in different ways and give them the right opportunities."

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