Saturday, August 07, 2010

A classic test in all the right ways

My intention, (a couple of posts ago), in highlighting the rate at which wickets fell in the third test between India and Sri Lanka, was to point to how even a contest the test was and concomitantly what a classic test it was turning into (and did). Think about this:

On the first day, Sri Lanka make 293-4 (almost 300 runs with almost half the side gone). The next day, a fighting ton made with the assistance of the tail takes them to 425. India reply in style, rattling up 180-2 in 35 overs. This means, they are almost half-way to the SL score, and have done it quickly, leaving them (and the Sri Lankans) a little time in the bank. The Sri Lankans fight back on the third by getting rid of all the recognized batsmen, but the Indian tail gets a small, but important lead (numerically and psychologically). India take two wickets by close of the third day to edge just a little bit ahead. On the fourth day, Sri Lanka collapse, but thanks to tail-enders (and some depressingly familiar, unimaginative captaincy by Dhoni) they put up a decent target. By day's end, they've decimated the Indian top-order, including the most dangerous man of all, Sehwag. On the fifth day, after the nightwatchman is dismissed, Tendulkar and Laxman weather the storm (and are again aided by defensive captaincy), and then after a little twist, when Tendulkar is dismissed, VVS and Raina take them through.

There you have it. This was a five-day battle, and it needed all that time to develop. There were shifts of momentum on every single day and the side batting second had to fight hard to keep wresting the initiative from the one batting first. When making the case for test cricket, this game should find pride of place in the evidence dossier.

Both sides had weakened bowling attacks; both worked manfully to overcome their limitations. (Sadly, both captains revealed their tactical shortcomings). And then finally, it needed some batting greatness to tilt the game India's way: Sehwag's first-innings brilliance, and then the Tendulkar-Raina-Laxman combine in the second. Tendulkar's dismissal occurred at a very awkward time; it is to Raina's credit that he turned it into a minor hiccup.

So Team India does it again: it disappoints, infuriates, and then comes through. There are too many inconsistencies things still wrong with it for any fan to relax. But their performance is strangely reassuring in another way: for when they screw up again, as they will, most assuredly, sometime in the near-future, one's teeth-gnashing should be attenuated by the knowledge that they are capable of getting up off the floor.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Tifosi Guy said...

You can't say both sides had weakened bowling attack. India did, but NOT Sri Lanka. Who exactly are Sri Lanka missing ???

This test just gave Sri Lanka a taste of what life is going to be without Murali. Pray for them when they go abroad - because they'll be pretty damn useless.

No batsman, save Sangakkara to bat outside of SL pitches and now no bowling attack either..

6:09 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

TG: The Lankans missed Murali for sure. As for them playing abroad, they need to get more tests - their schedule isn't too great. They are lucky India deigns to play so many tests against them.

6:43 PM  

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