Batting coach Stuart Law still confident of an Australian victory at Kandy
Law wants the Australian batsmen to negotiate carefully the first hour of play on the fifth and final day of the match on Saturday.
After a thrilling fourth day’s play in the ongoing Test match between Sri Lanka and Australia at Kandy, the hosts pretty much have the upper hand with Steven Smith’s men still requiring 185 more runs to win the opening match of the series with seven wickets in hand. While history shows that pitches in the subcontinent have usually deteriorated to such an extent that it becomes a nightmare for the batsmen on the final day of the Test matches, Australia's batting coach Stuart Law believes that might not be the case at this venue.
"This pitch doesn't look like deteriorating a great deal. If you look at the footmarks, big Mitchell Starc has been bowling left-arm over and has hardly broken the surface. It's hard as concrete and it's very dry,” Law said, adding that the prevailing weather conditions that have prevented the tea session being wiped out entirely during three of the first four days of the Test match have basically made it a fourth-day pitch for Saturday.
"History says that teams have chased big totals here before," he said on Friday (July 29). "Those pitches might have been prepared differently than for us, coming in. (But) it's not going to be a day-five pitch. We have played like three days thanks to the rain and light interruptions.”
With the Australian top-three already back in the pavilion, much of the visitors’ chances will depend on how well the present pair of Steven Smith and Adam Voges negotiate the tricky conditions early on in the morning.
“Overnight the dry conditions do tend to get the moisture back up into the surface. The first half-hour to an hour can be tricky,” Law said. “But the wicket drying up shouldn't be a problem. The first two days it was tacky in the mornings. But it's progressively dried out, and is probably at its driest now."
"The two guys who are batting at the moment need to put up a good partnership," he said. "Everyone else has to chip in where they can. We are still confident. We always want to play to win and not to draw," he added.
Heading into the match as clear underdogs thanks to their massive injury crisis, Sri Lanka have a made a remarkable comeback in the Test match, after being bundled out for 117 in the first innings. After some fantastic work by its bowlers restricted Australia to an 86-run lead, Kusal Mendis played the innings of his life to put his side on top against Australia and now it is the turn of the bowlers, particularly the three-pronged spin attack to finish off the job and complete what will be an amazing story.