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Posts Tagged ‘sri lanka

Result Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets

Series Sri Lanka won the 3-match series 2-1
Test debut KTGD Prasad (Sri Lanka)
Player of the match KC Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
Player of the series BAW Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Drip by drip, Sri Lanka made their way to a comprehensive series win, their first over India since 2001. On what turned out to be the final day of the series, Sri Lanka did not attack overtly, and kept their composure at crucial junctures – when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman had a long partnership, and also when India struck with two early wickets, after Sri Lanka came out in pursuit of 122.

A bowler short, a batsman limping, the No. 11 in no shape to bat, and only 14 runs ahead with half the team gone, India started the day as no-hopers, but they managed to give Sri Lanka a few nervous moments. Dravid and Laxman – who was nursing an ankle injury – provided resistance for about 90 minutes. Harbhajan Singh played a cameo to take the lead beyond 100, and then took a wicket in his first over.

Sri Lanka seemed in no hurry. They waited patiently, bowled in the right areas, and got the last five Indian wickets without much damage. It was Ajantha Mendis who broke the resistance, dismissing Dravid half an hour before lunch. And when Harbhajan, who hit five boundaries in his 26, looked to take India towards a sizeable lead, Chaminda Vaas, that epitome of discipline, struck in the first over he bowled after his three with the first new-ball.

When India struck early, reducing them to 22 for 2, Sri Lanka didn’t look to hit out, and waited instead for Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan to tire. Harbhajan, who opened the bowling in Ishant Sharma’s absence, bowled Michael Vandort with an arm-ball; and Zaheer Khan got Kumar Sangakkara soon after on the check-drive. Malinda Warnapura and Mahela Jayawardene weathered the storm, survived lbw shouts, and were content to add only 23 in 10.3 overs before tea.

The two went on to frustrate the Indian bowlers after tea, too. They never looked harried, kept rotating the strike, and by the time the Indians had frustrated themselves into exhausting their reviews, started to have some fun with sweeps – both orthodox and reverse. The only contest in the end was whether Jayawardene would get to a half-century as Warnapura had done earlier. Jayawardene was 46 and Sri Lanka three short of the win when he square-cut Sourav Ganguly for a four to end the match.

That India had a semblance of a chance when they began bowling was thanks to the partnership between Laxman and Dravid. Coming out of bad patches, they took the first steps towards what briefly seemed to be an incredible comeback, before they were stopped. Nonetheless it was the best partnership between two of the Fab Four in this series. The two looked comfortable reading the spinners, nudging and flicking for singles at ease, and capitalising on the fields set by rotating the strike. Laxman, who had Gautam Gambhir running for him, was visibly in pain, limping away to square leg when he got singles.

VVS Laxman scored a fighting 61 not out despite an injured ankle, but finally ran out of partners © AFP

Dravid and Laxman lasted as long as they did thanks in no small measure to Sri Lanka’s strategy: for much of the time, they didn’t employ conspicuously attacking fields, and gave away singles for free as they tried to prevent boundaries. As a result, despite the time consumed, India’s lead never reached threatening proportions.

The day started with Dravid closing in on his first half-century of the series, which he brought up with a punched boundary off Mendis. He then settled down again, looking determined as he played the most confident innings by an Indian middle-order batsman in the series. Laxman at the other end received plenty of favours from Sri Lanka. When he was on 35, he edged Muttiah Muralitharan, but there was no slip. The field at that time had no slip and no silly point, and had a short mid-on, a short midwicket, a short square leg, and a backward square leg. In Murali’s next over, Laxman was dropped by Thilan Samaraweera at short mid-on. After he got to his second half-century of the series, he was dropped by Malinda Warnapura at forward short leg.

In between those drops and missed chances, he hit Dammika Prasad for two delightful boundaries, but those were about the only quick runs India got from Sri Lanka, who stuck to their plan of not letting India run away with the game, testing their patience and resolve, knowing the wicket-taking delivery would come.

Come it did, courtesy Mendis, who, bowling from round the stumps, drew Dravid forward and got the ball to move enough to take the edge. Then Murali, who had started from over the stumps, came back round, and got Kumble lbw with an accurate offbreak. Mendis ended with 26 wickets, the best for a debutant in a three-match series, and Murali with 21.

Sri Lanka have now won 13 of their last 16 series at home, and have not lost to India at home since 1993. The way Mendis and Murali bowled through the series bodes well for the continuation of Sri Lanka’s near-invincibility at home. It could signal the beginning of the end for the most feared middle order in world cricket.

Source: http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/slvind/content/story/364645.html

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“He is talented, very talented, but has no brains,” was Geoff Boycott’s on-air verdict after Virender Sehwag’s attempt to hook a ball from outside off stump found the fielder at deep square leg and triggered a first-innings collapse at the SSC.

Sehwag’s response to a question regarding his approach after his maverick innings – a 15th Test century at a strike-rate of 104.91 – was deadpan. “How can I stop the way I’ve played?” he said. “Yes, there is pressure if wickets fall and you think ‘What if I go for a shot and get out too?’ But if that happens you’re never going to score runs.”

After two batting collapses in the first Test it was imperative that India got a solid start. Sehwag provided that by using a simple mantra: if the ball is there to be hit, hit it. Circumstances rarely affect Sehwag and he put the pedal to the metal. A whip off the pads past midwicket got him started, a wild sweep that was unsuccessfully referred didn’t stall him, and when he charged Ajantha Mendis and swung him over cow corner for six, Sehwag was at full throttle.

The stand-out feature was the effortless manner in which Sehwag handled Mendis, who was virtually unplayable in Colombo. The key, in his own simple words, was that here Sehwag “picked him [Mendis] off the track, from where the ball pitched”, something only he and and Sachin Tendulkar have managed to do in this series.

When Mendis tossed the ball up on middle and off, Sehwag smothered the spin, and when the bowler drifted on to middle, he went back and turned it fine. If it spun in sharply, Sehwag adjusted his back leg and brought his bat down quickly to kill the ball. Sehwag also picked the two-fingered googly and moved back to cut or punch through the off-side. He failed to beat cover with the drive once but replayed the shot two balls later with more power and placed it to perfection. Mendis’ first four overs cost 29.

Sehwag accelerated and yet remained in control with Gautam Gambhir, fleet-footed against spin, in the passenger seat. There were cracks at one end of the pitch and Nuwan Kulasekera asked a few questions but Sehwag steered clear of them. He cut Muttiah Muralitharan’s first ball, a doosra from around the stumps, to reach his half-century off 50 balls. His strike rate, like a speedometer, fluctuated from 60 to 98 and beyond. India’s 100 came from 115 balls and Sehwag’s contribution was 59.

Like Sri Lanka did at the SSC, he and Gambhir ran hard, hustling for the second, and constantly looking for scoring opportunities. Sehwag and Aakash Chopra, another Delhi team-mate, did this effectively during the majority of their 19 partnerships, notably in Australia in 2003-04. Some of today’s singles were risky but the intent was obvious and it frustrated Sri Lanka.

In the over before lunch, Sehwag put his arm around Gambhir’s shoulder and had a word. Gambhir reached his fifty off the next ball and a beaming Sehwag rushed to congratulate him. When Sehwag dabbed a single behind point to raise the 150 partnership, he punched gloves with Gambhir as they crossed. How many batsmen can power a side to 150 for 0 at lunch? The camaraderie was plain to see.

After a four-hour rain delay, Mendis tested Gambhir with his variation but at the other end Sehwag disdainfully smashed Vaas over cow corner off his second ball after the resumption. Two balls later he played a booming straight drive to reach his century, which he celebrated with a proud wave of the bat to the dressing room and an embrace from his partner. His 15th hundred took only 87 balls with 15 fours and two sixes but the message was deeper.

At the MCG, in 2003-04, India were 311 for 3 but collapsed for 366 after Sehwag was dismissed for 195 at the end of the first day. In Adelaide earlier this year Sehwag scored 151 out of India’s 269 in the second innings. Today, Sehwag had driven India to a position of strength at 167 for 0 before four wickets fell in 20 balls for 11 runs. As he had done against England in Galle during the winter, Chaminda Vaas, rejuvenated after the rain delay, struck twice in an over. Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were dismissed with the score on 178 and the morning’s work had come undone.

“I didn’t notice any change in my batting after the four-hour break in play,” Sehwag said. “Every batsman has his own mindset with which he plays, but I just played my shots.” Even as stumps approached, Sehwag relied on his base instinct. Mendis went around the stumps and Sehwag used his feet to smash him down the ground and hit two consecutive fours through cover.

Sehwag had fulfilled his responsibility of providing a sound start but the collapse meant that he had to hold the innings together. His unshakeable approach did not change. “I am not satisfied because there’s plenty left in this game,” was Sehwag’s closing statement. “If I can convert this into a double-century or more tomorrow, get India above 400-500, apply pressure on Sri Lanka, then I will be satisfied.”

Crushed in Colombo, India arrived in Galle needing to find a way to bounce back. Only a vivid imagination could have conceived of a fightback without it being led by Sehwag. Like the white breakers of the Indian Ocean, lashing across the rocks in the background of the Galle International Stadium, Sehwag has injected life into a one-sided series.

He has brains alright, and he’s used them rather well.

Source: http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/slvind/content/current/story/363146.html


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