Posts Tagged ‘Ajantha Mendis’

Pakistan v/s Sri Lanka: Gonna be Interesting

January 19, 2009

It’s Pakistan v/s Sri Lanka 1st ODI match, which is being played in Pakistan (Much needed home series). With both the teams in form and raring to go, it is going to be an interesting match to watch. It is also going to be interesting how Pakistani’s cope with Mendis threat. On other hand side Shoaib Akhtar has also been reported fit.

Well, it is a must watch game. I will keep you updated on scores.

Happy Watching !!

Sandesh Kumar

Indians unable to tackle Mendis

August 18, 2008

Mahendra Singh Dhoni said after the Asia Cup that Ajantha Mendis couldn’t be read. Nothing’s changed since then

The crisp, cream clothing made way for dazzling blue, but the script read much the same. Watching India clearly weighed down by the finger freak waiting in the wings, unsure about how to tackle tidy medium-pace, anxious about what could be unleashed at any moment, it was hard not to get a sense of déjà vu. The Test specialists were gone, but the one-day recruits suffered a similar fate.

India’s latest defeat against Sri Lanka wasn’t all about Ajantha Mendis, though at the rate he is picking up awards and cheques, he’s certain to be a richer man and teach Arun Lal, the post-match emcee all tour, a fair amount of Sinhalese. Mendis played a key role, but India were severely dented after Sri Lanka’s new-ball duo nipped out three early wickets.

That pair took much of the pressure off Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan. Chaminda Vaas breached Gautam Gambhir’s defence with the second ball of the match and Nuwan Kulasekera bowled very well, complementing his partner, to take two wickets. After five overs India were 9 for 1; after ten 29 for 2; after 15, 42 for 3; after the Powerplays they were reeling at 73 for 4. Therein lies the command that Sri Lanka took over the opposition. Vaas and Kulasekera choked the top order and Thilan Thushara, bowling tidy left-arm seam, maintained the pressure. It was a clinical example of attacking through partnerships.

More importantly, it was the perfect setting for Mendis to come in for the last over of the Powerplays. India were unsettled by their early losses and apprehensive about Mendis’ arrival. They were unsure about how to handle the situation, and it proved detrimental.

When Mendis did arrive, India’s batsmen looked no closer to deciphering him. His first strike hurt so deep that India failed to recover. Yuvraj Singh was beaten first ball by a slider, survived an extremely tight lbw shout, tried to dictate terms with a six over long-on, and was then utterly befuddled by a quicker one that skidded on. Too far forward, Yuvraj was left looking silly. India’s most experienced player had fallen for the dangling carrot, and the reverberations were loud.

Thereon it was much the same as in the Tests. Mendis left the rest to fumble about in the dark. Mahendra Singh Dhoni fidgeted and fussed about his crease, playing and missing until he was put out of his misery by an outside-edge that flew to slip. Runs dried up. The heat turned up. After the Asia Cup, Dhoni said Mendis just couldn’t be read at all; nothing has changed.

India’s players have bounced between analysing footage, hoping that his aura may wear off and stressing on reading him off the pitch. What they need to understand is that for the time being Mendis is beyond understanding. Hard as it may sound, they need to take him out of the equation, stop worrying about him

Again bowling accurately and lethally, Mendis finished with 3 for 21 off nine overs, helping reduce India to 87 for 7 after which he was taken out of the attack. All Murali had to do was twirl his wrist and gobble up the lower order, even if his last over went for 14. The problem with India’s approach against Mendis was that everyone wanted to build, nobody wanted to do maintenance.

“Creativity is not like a freight train going down the tracks,” wrote Bob Dylan in his autobiography, Chronicles. “It’s something that has to be caressed and treated with a great deal of respect. If your mind is intellectually in the way, it will stop you. You’ve got to programme your brain not to think too much.”

Flip that around and you understand India’s predicament against Mendis. They’ve been bamboozled, nay awed, by Mendis’ bag of tricks since he destroyed them in Karachi. Mendis is special, no doubt about it. India’s players have bounced between analysing footage, hoping that his aura may wear off and stressing on reading him off the pitch. What they need to understand is that for the time being Mendis is beyond understanding. Hard as it may sound, they need to take him out of the equation, stop worrying about him.

Virender Sehwag didn’t think too much about Mendis in Galle and finished the match with 251 runs. There’s a possibility he may be out of the whole series, and that’s a massive worry, for in a sense India lost this match before Dhoni went out for the toss. They lost this match some time during training yesterday when Sehwag injured himself. Sehwag was India’s highest scorer in the Test series, handling Mendis with aplomb during his double hundred in Galle, and their best bet at providing a solid start.

Dhoni spoke of the added responsibility on Sehwag to pass on advice to India’s one-day recruits. In terms of his experience against Sri Lanka’s spinners and his ability to provide starts, an integral asset in cricket, Sehwag’s loss was brutal. In his last ODI he hammered an exhilarating 60 from just 35 balls, helping India storm to 76 from just nine overs.

Without their best player, India’s indecision crept in from the onset. The openers may have thought attacking Sri Lanka’s medium-pacers was the best option given their inefficiency in the Tests. That didn’t work, and they had no answer to Mendis.

Even if they do a half-baked job of something, India’s batsmen will find themselves one-eyed men in the kingdom of the blind. But at the moment they remain indecisive about picking one approach; it’s a toss-up between throwing in the towel or trying to force the pace against spin. India need to find a way to rotate singles, as well as score runs.

“Its important to learn,” said Dhoni, “because everyone makes mistakes. Unless you learn from those your own, your team’s graph won’t go up.”

There’s only a day’s gap for the second match. India’s time starts now.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

Sehwag decrypts Mendis

July 31, 2008

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 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.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi