This script would have been different had Jayasuriya held onto a running catch at mid on when Sehwag was on 14. Indian Skipper MS Dhoni was given a life when batting on 1 by Kapugedera who made an ash of the opportunity at deep mid wicket. India would have struggled had Thilakaratne Dilshan not let birthday boy Yuvraj Singh off the hook when he let one pass off his chest, at long on, when the south paw was on 40.
Run out opportunities were missed by the bushel due to lack of direction, hence the visitors paid the price, after scoring a match winning 207 for 6 wickets at Mohali yesterday. The hosts were also very generous towards their visitors putting down as many as 5 catches, a virus the Indian team caught and carried with them from Nagpur.
Incidentally Gautam Gambhir proved to the world, that he is a sportsman of the highest class when he signaled to the umpire that he did not take the catch clean off a Chintha Jayasinghe hit at mid wicket. He set an example to his replacement in the 3rd test Murali Vijayan who picked up the ball off Dilshan’s pads at forward short leg and appealed profusely to umpire Nigel Long who made a mess of the test by ruling the batsman out.
Well done Gautham, you have the same stature of Kumar Sangakkara, your stroke play and execution is very similar to that of the Sri Lankan skipper and now you even prove one more point, your honesty too, is that of Kumar Sangakkara a player who walks out even before the umpire raises his finger, if in his mind he has nicked the ball.
Lets get back to Mohali. India had three predictable changes to their team that lost in Nagpur, while the visitors opted for an all seam attack with the introduction of Kaushal Weeraratne, selected ahead of a genuine spinner which Sri Lanka had in plenty, namely Murali, Mendis and Pushpakumara.
Credit to Sri Lanka, despite loosing Dilshan for one run they piled up a match winning total of 207 runs thanks to Sangakkara who thumped 59 off 31 deliveries with eight fours and two sixes. Jayasuriya did well for his 31 off 21 balls with five hits to the rope and a towering six to the square, on the off side off Ashish Nehra. Chinthaka Jayasinghe looks an impressive player for the shorter version of the game. His 38 off 28 deliveries which included three boundaries and a six, was great to watch. The young right hander also played the spinners well.
Mathews impressed with an unbeaten 26 off 13 balls with a four and two big sixes. The right hander hit a six off the last ball to help Sri Lanka get past the 200 mark. I find it difficult to fathom as to why Weeraratne was sent ahead of Mathews, who struck great blows out of the park even at Nagpur. Weeraratne faced 7 balls, his timing was not up to scratch and he made only 4 runs. What a waste.
Sri Lanka also faltered, at least one top order batsman in the caliber of Jayawardena or even Kapugedera should have hung around till the end. ”If and buts” are not the words one should use in cricket, it’s very similar to “closing the gate after the horse has bolted”, but please permit me, had Jayawardena stayed at the wickets, pushed the singles and been a shade risk free in his shot selection Sri Lanka may have on hindsight got to a much bigger score taking into consideration that the Indians were also guilty of bowling wide after wide, conceding 17 runs in all.
Indian seam bowlers were taken to the cleaners with the visitors piling on 73 runs in their allotted 6 over power play. The tide changed with the introduction of spin. I wonder if Kumar missed a trick by not playing a specialist spinner, further not using his resource in Jayasuriya.
India is a strong batting line up. The visitors simply let the hosts off the hook with an all seam attack which they love. Missed catches, lack of direction in direct hits, wavered bowling by Kulasekera who went for 50 in 4 overs, Weeraratne’s 43 in 3 overs of which he was thrashed for 21 runs in one over, together with Mathews giving away 49 runs in 3.1 over’s took the game away from the visitors.
Credit to India, local boy who incidentally turned 28 yesterday Yuvraj Singh belted an unbeaten 60 in 25 balls with five big sixes and 3 fours and also captured 3 valuable Sri Lankan wickets for just 23 runs. Sehwag as expected given a life on 14 pummeled 64 in 36 balls with seven hits to the rope and three massive sixes.
Dhoni should have been caught when he was on 1, but he took advantage of the missed chance and made it count with a blasting 46.
Sri Lanka should not be too discouraged, with the one day version round the corner they still have the opportunity to prove themselves. We go to Rajkot on Tuesday, the version now gets longer. 5 games in all, both teams know each other well by now, marketing terminology SWOT comes into effect in which Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats are analyzed.
Enjoy your cricket, and I’ll entertain you in word and verse on our website.
Sri Lanka 206 for 6 in 20 overs
Kumar Sangakkara 59 (31 balls)
Chinthaka Jayasinghe 38 (28 balls)
Sanath Jayasuriya 31 (21 balls)
Angelo Mathews 26 (13 balls)
Yuvraj Singh 3 for 23
India 207 for 4 in 19.1 over’s
Virendra Sehwag 64 (36 balls)
MS Dhoni 46 (28 balls)
Yuvraj Singh 60 not out (25 balls)