The champion bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan claimed a record number of 800 wickets, won Lanka the first test match and called it a day. There will always be a question mark lurking over his action, bend arm etc, but no one can stand up to question the number of overs that he used to bowl in a Test match. It is hard to imagine a bowler bowling 40 to 50 overs or may be more each test match, in sweaty, sapping and humid conditions of Sri Lanka. Yes, spinners love bowling long spells, but the amount of overs he sent down day in and ay out was something else.
He had lot of variety in his armoury and use to turn it square. Murali in last few years started to bowl round the wicket, with the amount of turn he would get many scoring options like an off drive, a hoick over midwicket, a sweep, most scoring options against a conventional spinner would of no use for the batsmen against Murali. It wasn’t just the amount of spin, it was the bounce, the pace, and bowling two different kind of deliveries with no visible change in action was a treat to watch. It is often called the bite of the spinner. Yes, after having said all that he had a penchant of getting wickets both in terms of quality and quantity. If one wishes to see the difference between Sri Lankan attacks, just have a look at bowling figures in the next match, provided another maverick in Mendis, could be blunted. Mendis is a sniper in the Lankan Army he aims, locks, and fires with sniper’s accuracy. I think Harbhajan should watch Mendis very very closely, so that he can pick up what he does and then Bhajji could improve upon his own bowling or at least fine-tune it to make it sharper. He has a more palable delivery proves much more acceptable nothing to do with the arm or the wrist just the fingers. Bhaaji if u read this ... :P
Murali like most people on top seems to be always gracious and humble, something, which I am amazed and I am in total awe of this particular achievement of his. I think what he did best was to take wickets and win it for his team. Murali did that till his lat match,when he won it for Lanka and claimed his 800th wicket. I think his record his here to stay for a little while. It is one of those record that will stay in the game of cricket, just like Don Bradman’s average, Jim Laker’s and Anil Kumble’s ten out of ten, Tendulkar runs & centuries and may be Sehwag’s strike rate especially against Lanka.
I am not ever deeply looked into someone’s class, creed, race or religion or some other background or whatever, merit should be based on ability alone rest of the things must not be considered. But In Lanka there has been a long ethnic conflict and Murali being a Tamil stood for defiant among things when war ragged in Lanka. He turned the attitude of his people, stamped his authority because of ability, and did far better then he ever imagined when he started playing the game. He has been there and done that, long after the dust will settle we would take our hats off to a wizard who was unique; imagine being one of a rare type of bowler, a right arm wrist off spinner. He has just raised the bar and let’s raise a toast to Murali. Thank you Murali, for the entertainment.
Now to the review of the Galle Test match
Sri Lankans pump it up to 520/8 dec.
Dilshan was looking like palest shadow lurking in a dark alley of a dead ended street. His batting abilities seem to have ditched him and he is not quiet the scene when he was in rich form a couple of season back, when he could do no wrong on a cricket field,smashing run, taking blinding catches, chipping in with wickets. The times change and changes faster than a blink of an eye. He tried hitting out of form, but it seems that its not only out of form, he needs to rethink he game a bit. Mithun making debut for India claimed him off a short ball.
After the initial out burst, the truth surfaced about the half-baked Indian bowling. Lankans relished and devoured the half-cooked Indian bowling attack, with Ishant Sharma not having any form of competitive match practice except a few sides games in his home's side lanes. He is looking just like Dilshan if you compare their performances. But obviously, I hope to see him doing well and I guess he would do well on this tour, there are a couple of test matches left along with a tri-series tournament featuring Kiwis. I hope it is the lack of match practice for Ishant than anything else. A long spell in the middle would do him a world of good. Mithun did ok in the opportunities he had, losing Zaheer through injury resulted in Indians losing their premier bowler.
Sanga the Lankan captain and opener Parnavitarna kept helping themselves and layered a meaty partnership that laid a foundation to a huge competitive score, both score centuries. Parnavitarna looked good solid opening bat, with shades of Tamim Iqbal,but Tamim is young and Parnavitarna looked good and has been scoring run in provisional Lankan cricket.Sanga is such a class player a treat to watch, seemed no fuss what so ever and played it like his cool self, guiding Parnavitarna on his way to a very impressive century, he holed out to Bhajji, who looked every bit jaded and seemed to be still fighting flu. I was wondering why Yuvraj and Tendulkar were not used. Sehwag did roll his arm but not much for him either. The close in fielding when spinners are bowling need to be relooked into I am not sure if Gambhir is serious to stand in bat pad positions.
A very interesting comparison of how teams fared would be to compare the score that the lower half of the batting ladder has contributed. It tells the whole story. Herath and Malinga contributed some useful runs and took the Lankan the score to a position, where only two unique possible results were possible, theoretically, by the way Indians losing a test match or not winning is always a unique possibility and must never be ruled out.
Indian bowling needs a quick beef up because the strike bowlers are woefully out of form and may be down on match fitness. I was of the opinion that Bhajji should be dropped but since then he has marginal improved but the fact is not many spinners are on view, Ojha is a good one, Murali Karthik fails to impress the selection committee R Ashvin remains untried and untested. The fast bowling cupboard never looked so empty.
Before the follow on.
Sehwag should try playing Lankan attack in the night in total darkness I am sure he can score at least fifty run without even breaking into sweat. He devours their attack. Sehwag has now made scoring rate in tests his won indulgence. He is already scoring 80 runs for every 100 balls faced in all test that he has player. Sehwag against, Lankans is scoring 100 for every 100 balls faced. If elephants could dance then Sehwag has to be the choreographer.
Gambhir had a poor test, Rahul Dravid is on the fag end, there is a big hole the size of a crater which will appear if and when the big three retire, that could be as soon as this year or may be by the end of this season, who knows. Dravid was run out not scoring much, Tendulkar paid rich tributes to Murali only to be gone leg before to Murali, Yuvraj Dhoti had a partnership growing but then the Indian innings folded and last five wickets contributed just 25 runs. But when it comes to Dravid, class is permanent and form is temporary, its the start of season so lets see.
Follow on – which followed the same usual script.
In this age of high octane fuelled T20s, the art brick laying and long batting innings playing a session out seems as archaic as a relic. I think Collingwood is only example who can hold fort and grind the opposition in a la test match style, Dravid or Tendulkar and Laxman. We have often seen great Indian batting collapse rather than watch them fight tooth and nail literally every ball every session until the ship is bought into the harbour of safety and the test match is drawn.
The last fighting inning I remember when Gambhir was in a middle of a Royal Purple patch and batted out a draw with Laxman,Dravid had scored then as well, it was a test match in Napier against the Kiwis, when Indian had last toured there. Tendulkar did create a sparkle but since the top order didn’t fire things didn’t exactly transpired towards a draw. I guess Murali was just looking for a toehold in the door. Malinga just sent down thunderbolt after thunderbolt and had Indian jumping on the hot Galle pitch. He claimed 5 wickets close to nothing but then this match being Murali's swan song Malinga contribution would be a touch under stated.
Indians b Malinga c Murali
The story of the match can be simple explained by in a cricketing jargon “India b Malinga c Murali.” The Indian were bamboozled by Malinga and confused by Murali, capitulated to a tame defeat, and will now play catch up in every session of remaining of this test series. Then invariably toss is so vital for visiting teams especially in Lanka. It will be interesting to see that say in last ten years how the visiting teams have fared when they won the toss .