We didn't bowl the right lengths consistently - SL bowling coach Ratnayake

Sri Lanka's bowlers toiled hard without reward
New Zealand v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Wellington, 3rd day December 17, 2018

Though faced with a placid Basin Reserve track, Sri Lanka's bowlers did not hit their lines and lengths consistently enough, as New Zealand amassed 578 and claimed total control of the first Test.

Sri Lanka bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake had expected better of his charges, who had shown signs of promise earlier this year in the West Indies, where they prospered with the big-swinging Dukes ball on pitches that gave bowlers a little more to work with.

But in Wellington, the three frontline quicks looked ordinary as a unit, taking 5 for 359 between them. While Lahiru Kumara was the best of the trio, taking four of those wickets, Kasun Rajitha collected the worst figures, going wicketless from 34 overs and conceding 144.

"We should've done better - I thought we didn't hit the right areas and we didn't bowl the lengths - which they did - consistently well," Ratnayake said. "We bowled too short a length at times, and at others, it was right up like a half-volley. It wasn't an [ideal] in-between thing. If you see the New Zealand bowlers, they've bowled a better length and a line in the second innings. Maybe the first innings you can say the wicket helped them. But if we had created a better line and a better length, it would have been a much happier day for me and the whole team."

Among the challenges Sri Lanka's quicks face, is that as the team routinely fields three specialist spinners in home Tests, the fast bowlers rarely have the opportunity to play at home. This same pace-bowling trio bowled well together to win Sri Lanka a Test in Barbados in June, for example, but Kumara and Rajitha did not play in any of Sri Lanka's five Tests since then.

Ratnayake, though, refused to use that lack of match practice as an excuse.

"It is a challenge for sure, but at this level we can't be saying those things. We have to get ready for that. We've prepared for that. But I guess there's nothing like the real thing of a test. Yes, they hadn't played for six months now, but that shouldn't be the excuse going forward. We should learn lessons very quickly from this Test. At least, there were more positives today for the bowlers than yesterday."

After Sri Lanka's bowlers had been clattered around the Basin Reserve for the best part of five sessions, their top three failed to show resistance, and substantially worsened the visitors' match situation. Sri Lanka went to stumps at 20 for 3, with two of those dismissals being the result of attacking strokes. Dimuth Karunaratne - generally the most reliable Sri Lanka batsman - played perhaps the worst shot of the three, hooking a Tim Southee delivery, to be caught at fine leg.

"The batsmen made wrong decisions and we're disappointed with that," Ratnayake said. "But they're more disappointed. You saw them looking down as they played those shots, especially Karunaratne."

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