There are couple of reasons for Indian cricket fans to rejoice a clinical performance by Indians to beat Lankan 2-0. All that noise about Test matches are breathing their last, franchisee debate, and other noise can take a breather for a while, coz Test matches are the foundation of cricket and I don’t see any building lasting for long if the foundations eroded, or undermined.
It's a long post, since it is a series review it better be a long one. So it is match by match the whole review of the series, stringed with who did what and when. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
First Test, Ahmadabad
Early morning jitters, India 32 for 4
The writing was pretty much on the Wall and didn’t he stand tall? India tottering at 32 with big names and big guns trailing back to pavilion often the case Dravid kept his head down and stood the storm, also scored run and steered India to some respectability, Yuvraj eased of the work load and then Dravid went on to make a century. Captain courageous, MSD also added muscle with a stoic century in the first innings.
Jayawardene, the long distance runner.
Jayawardene almost easily fits into any batting situation and can change gears so easily, his batting is pristine and very good looking to the eye something same as Dravid. They both bat in such similar fashion. Jayawardene batted and batted and simply dismantle India bowling after Dilshan flayed it to all corners. The pitch was a dead beat, as is the case with most Ahmadabad pitches. Dilshan is having such a good time and at this point in time made no false stroke. He blasted the India bowling and rightfully earned a century, the keeper Jayawardene also notched up a meaty 154, and all hopes of a result had ended.
Gambhir and Tendulkar score tonnes.
It was for gone conclusion that the match would be a draw. Sehwag made amends scored a fifty, Gambhir the best India batsmen in any form of the game played a solid innings and with every run he scored, possibility of a draw become stronger. Tendulkar perhaps played on the easiest fifth day pitch ever in 20 years of profession top level cricket. At least it was an easiest hundred (if there is one) he would have ever made. But runs have to be scored. In the dying moments of the day he completes a terrific feat.
Second test, Green Park, Kanpur.
Runs were flowing, alrite.
Green Park one of the traditional venues in India cricket history others being Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengalluru. Jasu Patel an off spinner was bought back and scripted a magnificent tale of beating Aussies. He was the one who held the India record for most dismissals claimed by a bowler, before Kumble had got perfect 10. These venues again saw a famous India victory, that too by a huge margin. Sehwag, Gambir and Co set of the pyro and before the dust settled, Lankan were forced to follow on, courtesy a bewildering spell by Sree Santh. Sehwag smacked a century at better than run a ball, Gambhir not wanting to miss out again and extended his good form also came up with superlative century, Dravid again stamped his authority ensuring there are no unwanted hiccups. This was the first instance since 2003 that Sehwag scored a century and didn’t cross 150. Dravid was out the only way he could be out, falling short do the crease at non strikers end, worst way to get out. Sehwag, Gambhir and Dravid together scored more than 400 runs; Lankans were looking at the wrong end of the barrel. India having scored nearly 650 runs at more than four an over meant Lankans were always catching up.
Lankans follow on, only to falter again
The mad cap Sree Santh, gifted with such beautiful action and just back creating havoc for Warwickshire on the county circuit under watchful eye of Donald, came from nowhere and made Lankan cold sweat. He made the ball do the talking and the ball seamed and swinged and Sree Santh brought back the memories of South Africa. The ball to get Prussian Jayawardene was a peach and could have got any right hand batsman. Amazing control. He kept on plugging away. He got a 5 wicket haul and redeemed himself, and grabbed headline news for cricketing reasons off course all with positive intent and connotation. Lankans forced to follow on. At the end of the fourth day they were trailing in second innings and the score read 57 for 4, the result was in sight for the Indians, the job was just half done.
Bit more shocks and India snubbed the remaining six wickets.
Final Test, CCI, Mumbai.
Again a chapter in History beacons, Wankhede under construction saw Brabourne hosting a test match first time in over 36 years. Sangakarra won the toss and elected to bat.
What seemed good …?
Lankans battled hard, Dilshan boosted the scoring rate and also getting one more century. He looks so formidable and nearly impossible to dislodge. Lankans batted for a day and a session and scored nearly what seemed a good 400 hundred. Sehwag also had a few ideas and few strokes up his sleeve.
Gambhir opting out paved way for Murali Vijay. Sehwag and Murali, opened the innings. Their scoring rate opened the flood gates and Sehwag kept on pumping boundaries and sixes. No way was Muralidharan was allowed to dominate. Murali meanwhile matched Sehwag stroke for stroke, if not in quantity then surely in quality. He provided ample support and made sure Sehwag wasn’t starved of strike. Sehwag kept on smashing thunderbolts. I mean with what regularity he score over 150. There was more agony. It was the second time in couple of years that Sehwag scored a double century stand with two consecutive batsmen. I mean alrite you have to physically be there in sun all day, but the mental strength to keep going on was immense, all with a smile, Viru kept licking his lips and smacking them to all parts, last half and hour saw Viru cooling down, Dravid did bulk of the scoring.
India high on MSD
In order to rub it in, India had a quiet second day until an hour after Tea when Dhoni, seemed to be cursing decided to go berserk. Lead nearing 300 and Dhoni kept ignoring singles and kept hitting sixes, all of a sudden 100 was in sights. Dhoni smacked on of hearth way out of CCI and claimed a six and bottled a 100 and declared with Lankans trailing with 333.
The day of reckoning not to be.
I had imagined Lankans being all out in the day, wasn’t to be. They fought hard and looked to put intrepid performance, Paranavithana looking cool calm and composed. Bhajji got his man Dilshan padding up and the slide started. Zaheer meanwhile put his hand up and bowled with great heart and control keeping the runs tight, three quick wickets in the session and one though Lankans would just go bust. Sanga held fort and what looked like a fighting century was there for the taking. He smacked a very good hundred,
The final day.
Sanga the hero of the earlier day started with couple of boundaries only to be foxed by Zaheer, again. Zaheer on romp with a fifer up for grabs. One dog in short was to big to keep down for Heart, Ojha taking it neat, only two steps away from a victory. Sree Santh didn’t bowl for some reason. I wished he would have. Bhajji was persisted with. Another short pitch ball saw Kulasekara edging Zaheer to Laxman. Murali on the prowl was some quick runs. A couple of hefty hits and one of Bhajji. Bhajji floated and tossed one just a bit higher, Murali edge Bhajji to Dhoni and India completed the test win, flayed Lankans 2-0 in the series and were rewarded with Numero Uno Status of best Test Playing Team.
It was a very emphatic series win and the clout of Dhoni continues to grow. So far so good.