Cricket: Lankans cornered in P Sara Oval.

It seems sports can be unforgiving. The bowlers bake the cake and batsman takes it away with both their hands. The bowlers set it up and so those batsmen have the crowning glory. I mean lets first pay the due to the bolwers before we may start praising the batsmen. I don’t suggest that batsmen didn’t do much but Indian bowling has drawn a lot of flak for this series and to win a Test you need 20 wickets, for which bowlers have to create chances and the team members have to execute their plans and skills. It is only fair to say, bowlers took 20 wickets, set it up for batsmen to pick up the gauntlet. Imagine Lankans making something 350 in the second innings, Indian would have drawn the match, and it was a lost series. I know Sehwag factor could turn it around but then he could turn it could back fire as well. It almost did in the fourth inning of this test. But then equally accomplished players did well to sail the boat into the dock.

Bowlers started to get in the groove.

Mithun has impressed no doubt; only worry is when Zak & Co resume duties, Mithun may face a little oblivion. But that’s for a little later. Ishant started finally hitting the straps, Dhoni kept him bowling, best way to get wickets and get into rhythm is to keep bowling. He did well in first innings of the third test. Yes Lankans did score but they didn’t run away with it. Samaraveera scoring an important ton for Lankans to set up this Test match. It is fair to say that Lankan middle order in their backyard is like Indian middle order in our backyard. It is equally impregnable. The batsmen use to score big runs, Murali use to take wickets at other end and Lankans would win, and things changed just a span of just one test when Murali retired. Lankan batsmen scored and bowlers struggled to capitalise.
The Lankan batting card was a decent reply considering there was a marginal assistance to bowlers. India reply was to be based on how Sehwag would take it.

Sehwag swings between incredulous and incredible.

He sees it she hits it. A very very simple (and not crude) form of batting, he thinks only of scoring runs on every ball. His career strike rate is 80 per 100 balls faced and against Lanka it is 101 for 100 runs. He is phenomenal. Sehwag deservingly got the man of the series. I think he is one reason Test Matches remain dear to me. He has scored against all opponents in all conditions so he isn’t just a sub-continental wonder. Sehwag may have not scored big but he surely scored quickly. I wonder if even the pitch knows when Sehwag is playing because when he gets out the nature of the pitch changes and becomes more grounded.

Wall need to be rebuffed.

Rahul Dravid is on the last lap of his career if not the fag end. He was virtually coming in Test cricket with no match practice, hope he sees lot more runs. He tried to hit out bad form with a few quick boundaries and match Sehwag stroke for stroke only to snick it back to the wickets. There is something more left in him.

Some tales have similar twists.

Indian had the momentum with them when the claimed couple of Lankan wickets late on the third day, Lankan where reduced to 99/7 and Ojha was making it bounce and turn. It was then Samaraweera and Mendis struck a crucial partnership and deflated the Indian fans, but patience was required. Lankans got what was a defendable 260 odd runs. Lankans were left off the hook by Dhoni who had the last laugh when Sanga returned with the favours. It was a gutsy Mendis’ innings and made a Test match an exciting finish.

Why will we remember the Aussies?

One can say whatever they want, we all have loved to hate Aussies (cricket team) but the played and there players performances and fitness was cut above the rest and they played to ensure a result. They often faltered but they played to win. It is no so with other teams, Sanga repeated Dhoni‘s mistake and paid. When Sanga would have got up on the fifth morning when Indians were 50 something three down. He should have asked himself which two bowlers would Indians not like facing, answer was would be Mendis and Malinga. Sanga bought them in too late, Malinga should have been bought as soon as Ishant got out and Laxman walked in. Mendis has had an upper hand over Laxman. Malinga could have kept it tight at other end there was a chance to be taken, series was at stake, not to be. Walgedera and Randiv was on, Walegedera was probably used to rough up the pitch, bought how much wear and tear was done is a matter on another cricket blog.

Sachin played a curtailed, chance-less one.

We all know best chance of India winning a match is Sachin playing till the last run scored, Sachin tried doing that, he held one end up, stroke singles, playing strokes which involved no risk. Laxman meanwhile, kept scoring, so much so to outscore Sachin, in a way it was a perfect Test match partnership, Sachin got out on brink of a victory. The Indian victory was sealed in first hour of play when Indian batsmen were allowed to be settled. It was confirmed when Dilshan dropped Tendulkar of what seemed a regular short leg’s catch

Laxman and the proverbial Damocles sword.

Laxman has to perform or the proverbial Democles sword is always on their head. He fought hard and scored a vital century to get India over the hilt. Sachin had plugged one end up so Laxman was free to display his wristy stokes which were all along the grass. Lankans were thoughtless, but Laxman was mindful. Laxman is very very special when he bats the way he did.
Indian won the third test and levelled the series. Lankans should consider they lost a golden opportunity.

One more series featuring Lanka and India starts on Tuesday.

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