All eyes on SL middle order at Eden Gardens tomorrow

Sri Lanka will want to put behind their dismal batting display at Cuttack and look ahead at tomorrow’s encounter more optimistically. The visitors do have fond memories of Eden Gardens, a venue that can house 90,000 spectators.

Sri Lanka won a world cup match against Mohammed Azharuddin’s Indian side in 1996, by 131 runs, the only surviving member of that great team Jayasuriya, claimed 3 wickets for 12 runs, whilst India’s surviving star Tendulkhar, accounted for 65 runs, out of a paltry 120 for 8 wickets, made by India in reply to Sri Lanka’s big score of 251 for 8.

Sri Lanka has played six matches at Eden Gardens since 1990, and boasts of three wins and a no record result at this venue. From 1996 up until now, they have a clean record,  they comprehensively beat the hosts in a world cup semi final, gave the Pakistani’s a spanking in the Asia cup, winning that game by 85 runs, in which, Sanath Jayasuriya made a stroke filled 55, in a team total of 309, which incidentally is the highest score by any team at this venue, also known alongside MCG, as crickets answer to the coliseum.

The match that ended as a no result was in 2006/2007. Sri Lanka were put into bat and were 102 for 3 wickets when Mother Nature got rude, umpires had no option but call off the game. Four members who bat at top of the order played in that game. Jayasuriya was unbeaten on 63, Tharanga made 14, Sangakkara 12, whilst Jayewardene recorded a golden duck

The last time India beat Sri Lanka at this venue was in 1991, and that too comprehensively by 7 wickets with Tendulkhar stroking a delightful 53. Based on the above statistics Sri Lanka will be in contention to level the series with Jayasuriya, still in the squad. He not only has performed exceptionally well at this venue, but knows Eden Gardens, in the back of his palm. The way the middle order performed at Cuttack last Monday; there is food for thought, In line with the old saying, “Known Devil is better than a un known Angel”.

India at this venue have blown hot and cold, having only a fifty percent success rate in 15 outings .India’s most impressive win was  in 1998, when they beat Kenya by 9 wickets with 15 overs to spare. Tendulkhar made a unbeaten century in 103 balls with 14 boundaries.

In 2004, the hosts lost to Pakistan by six wickets in a high scoring game. The Indians set their arch rivals a target of 293, which the visitors achieved in 49.1 overs for the loss of four wickets. Shewag made 53 and Yuvraj top scored with  78, unfortunately for India, Yuvraj will not be in pursuit for tomorrow’s game due injury.

What you have read so far is history, but tomorrow will be mystery for the visitors, trailing by 2-1 in the five match series. The top three are firing and are in great nick. The Indians know very well in cricket, Dilshan, Tharanga and Sangakkara can have a bad day. Remember in three outings so far, the top three average 73.3 runs among themselves.

It’s time for Mahela Jayewardene to put his hand up and be counted. Kandamby and Kapugedera being given an opportunity to bat for 20 overs at Cuttack showed sheer immaturity. It’s no point putting on a show when the going is good. To be respected and rated as a world class player one must put the hand up like the past greats, like Aravinda, Arjuna, Gurusinghe, Hashan Thillekeratne and Roshan Mahanama, who played their role so well in the top and middle orders, to guide the team to safety in trouble waters.

Credit must be given to the selectors for introducing fresh legs and young hopefuls, having stated that, if you do not deliver then, older cogs in the likes of Jayasuriya and Samaraweera given a look in, with young Thissira Perera raring to go.

At this level there are no quarters asked, no quarters given. Motto is loud and clear, learn or depart. Kapugedera blows hot when the going is good and this was evident at the run feast venue in Rajkot, during the T20, but what happened to his accolades at Nagpur and more importantly at Cuttack.

Kandamby is a buddle of talent. He reminds us of that great legend namely Arjuna Ranathunga.If Kandamby can take a cue from the past master, learn how Arjuna won games for Sri Lanka under similar circumstances he  will do himself a favor by cementing his place in the side. He was out in first ODI for 24, guilty of not grounding his bat, looked very school boyish, tried his first Ariel execution at Nagpur and was caught at mid on, for 27, and in Cuttack had his timber disturbed for 22, not getting in line. Twenties in today’s arena, batting at number five or six, is not the norm, considering the demands of international cricket.

Kapugedera out for a golden duck at Nagpur, yorked, guilty of playing from his crease, with his feat going nowhere. At Cuttack, a sorry sight yet again, playing away from his body, only to hear the disgusting sound of the timber.

With Mahela out of form, experts are of the view that it will be vital to include Samaraweera in the side and bat him at number five after Jayewardene as a contingency plan. Mathews will be missed big time; unfortunately the visitors have no replacement at least on this tour.

The bowlers, lets spare a thought for them. We envisage a seven four combination with a specialist all rounder, hence 3 seam bowlers, one spinner and a spinning all rounder for tomorrow ,why not ?

Suraj Randiv will be the automatic choice ahead of Ajantha Mendis. India is on cloud 9, it is envisaged that Rohit Sharma who made a triple hundred in Mumbai might get a look in, ahead of Virat Kholi for the injured Yuvraj singh. It is a pressure game for Sri Lanka, but India can be beaten, Sangakkara knows it well, hopefully the right combination might do the job to level the series.

  • Shankar G

    Srilankan middle order needs to be strengthened, sanga has to move down to position 4 or 5 to make the stability of the innings, especially while chasing. And kulasekara have to imrpove on bowling, welelgadera learned very well in the entire series..