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Sri Lanka coach tells team to emulate Aussie sweeps

GALLE (AFP) – Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood yesterday urged his batsmen to emulate the sweep shots of their Australian opponents, after the hosts lost the opening Test inside three days.

The home side’s batting disappointed on a turning Galle pitch that saw Australian spinner Nathan Lyon take nine wickets.

Niroshan Dickwella’s 58 was the highest score for a Sri Lankan batsman in the match, which wrapped up before lunch yesterday.

Silverwood, who coached England until earlier this year and was appointed to lead Sri Lanka in April, said his team failed to keep the pressure on the opposition.

“We failed to push them,” he said. “We missed out on 50 runs with the bat and gave away 50 more and we need to learn from these things.”

Australia scored 321 in their first innings with Usman Khawaja (71), Cameron Green (77) and wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey (45) handling the spinners with aplomb.

The touring batsmen not only swept and reverse-swept, but also used their feet against the spinners to get quick runs on the turning track.

“We saw Aussies used the sweep well,” said Silverwood. “We need to do it on turning wickets.

“There are other things that we need to do like getting to the ball and using the feet well.”

Silverwood pointed to the example of Joe Root, who led England to a 2-0 Test sweep in Sri Lanka last year and made 426 runs in the series, including a double century.

“Joe Root gave us an exhibition on how to execute the sweep,” said Silverwood.

“That was one of the best seasons of his career. We already chatted about that in the dressing room. We are not having the confidence at the moment.”

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne attempted to attack in the second innings as he smashed Mitchell Starc for four boundaries, including three in a row in the first over.

But he soon fell to Lyon, triggering a collapse, and admitted after the match that Sri Lanka’s batting had lacked intent.

“I think as a batting unit, we needed to put our hands up and put up a good score, to put them under pressure,” Karunaratne said.

“That’s what we expect. We’ve been playing in these conditions, we know how to play turn, but the decisions we took were horrible.”