100 and counting

The best outcome of this Test — besides India notching up a win, of course, and keeping its home record against Sri Lanka intact — was the naming of Shantakumaran Sreesanth as man of the match.

Too often, adjudicators tend to be seduced by batting performances, and in this game it could be argued that either Sehwag or Gambhir, or both, should get the nod for setting the base for the big Indian score that broke Sri Lanka’s confidence and caused the visitors to implode twice in course of two days of playing time. Recognizing that on a pitch with nothing much to offer bowlers, Sree set the win up with his five-for merits applause.

Hopefully the award, and his performance over all, will finally teach the youngster the lesson that if he focuses on the bowling, and not on antics, he has a future yet, in an Indian team that badly needs good seam bowling options.

From a Lankan perspective, the stat that jumps out at me is this: the ninth wicket partnership between Thilan Samaraweera, currently top of the list for most Test runs in this calendar year, and Ajantha Mendis managed 73 runs in just under 20 overs [19.3 overs, actually] at a healthy 3.74.

It showed that for all the hype of a wicket that was “doing things”, batting remained easy. But what was really remarkable about that partnership is this: it was the second most substantial one for Sri Lanka in both innings combined; next only to the 82 runs added by Paranavitana and Sangakkara in 29.1 overs for the second wicket, after Tillekaratne Dilshan had perished to the first ball of the Lankan first innings.

As an indictment of the Lankan approach to batting in this game, that one fact tells the whole story; underlining it is the related fact that Sangakkara’s needless drive at a widish ball from Sreesanth that gave the bowler the first of his five-for signaled the beginning of the end for the visitors.

This game should have been a draw, but Lanka at no point showed bottle for the fight.

Enough said, till the contest resumes in three days at the DY Patil Stadium Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, some weekend homework: check out the nominated bloggers for the Indibloggies, and support the deserving with your votes.

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13 thoughts on “100 and counting

  1. Job nicely done by Team India (strong batting and overall a good bowling performance). Sree’s performance surely surprised me. I was almost convinced he is India’s Shoiab Akhtar. Maybe there is still hope for him. Still too early though to say whether he will go the Shoiab or the Zaheer Khan route.

    SL are now the official owners of the title “tigers at home and lambs abroad” moniker. 🙂 Maybe a decade from now they will be serious contendors for the top spot (regardless of what ICC says today) just like India finally overcame it’s 90s reputation through some consistent overseas performances in this decade.

  2. The sad part about this win is that Harbhajan with those 5 wkts has sealed his spot in the XI for the next 5 tests, at least.

    • If you are just looking at the scorecard and commenting on the performances of players,it’s tough to argue this case. On the other hand, Harbhajan produced some key breakthroughs in both the Lankan innings and was a vital part of the bowling unit right through this match. So, if he keeps his spot on the weight of this performance, he surely deserves to.

      • At least in India, I expect my lead spinner to run through sides once in a while. When was the last time Harbhajan did that? He will come up with a performance like this in the nick of time that will keep him in the team for the foreseeable future. That’s what normally happens.

        • JII, you are right. And the sad part is people fall for his bait as you can see in this very comment space. He knows exactly how to put in just enough in the right time to look like a contributor!

        • Hmm..So,when was the last time India played a test series at home before this? Lets see… There was the series against Aus in 2008 & one against Eng immediately following that. Harbhajan was the joint top wicket taker in both the series and India won both the series.

          • The average Indian cricket fan’s memory can go back to about 2 weeks and you are talking of events that happened more than a year back. If they do remember anything beyond 2 weeks in the past then it would be something of note that his/her favorite player had achieved. It is funny how some people use certain phrases (e.g., “the sad part is…”) that impart a tragic character to a successful performance when the player in question is not one of their favorites.

  3. Its been a cycle for Sree to comeback in this fashion. From being hailed as the best pace prospect to the one with best seam position to being ridiculed as “Appam Chu@^%@”.. to being warned by BCCI and so on..to go comeback and do this is a great achievement consider the pitch. He should thank his stars that IShant lost steam, Nehra plays only one series before he gets drained out, RPSingh still is a mystery … a combination of factors due to which he got a look in. There is no doubt he has the talent. Hopefully he has gained in temparament. The mannerism, the talismans, the prayers on the field r misleading. he watched him off the field at airport n flight..he is quite the anthithesis of the God fearing bloke that he pretends to be.

    Without doubt, he reaped advantage of the pressure a team batting second has when it has conceded so much runs to the opposition. Otherwise it would have been more of a draw. Hope he can build on this comeback. He is already talking about touch 140s soon. He should focus on wkts for now!

  4. Congratulations on the 100th Test victory !! Congrats to Sreesanth on the 5-fer. Hope he maintains a sober head for each game !

    On that partnership you mention btwn Mendis and Samaraweera, while I give it to you that batting may have been easier, batting can be lot easier when you have nothing to lose, don’t you think ??

    Reminds me of the Bhajji and PK ptnrship in the 1st ODI against Aus when we almost got to the finish line. Good effort nevertheless.

    Cheers.

    • Not really, Girish — by that token batting should have been easy for all the Lankans in the second innings at least, since there was nothing to lose anyway, and a game to draw.

      They just failed to apply themselves to any degree, played some atrocious shots, and seemed to have no plan at all for their two knocks. 😦 Pity, this could have been a close fought game but what the hell, we’ll take the win.

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