Posts Tagged ‘Chaminda Vaas’

India: Batting under test

August 19, 2008

Match facts

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Start time 10am (local time) 0430 (GMT)

The responsibility will fall on Gautam Gambhir to revive a struggling Indian top order

Big Picture

Since the Asia Cup final, India’s acclaimed batsmen have had to endure a dreadful ego hammering. There seems no quick solution in sight and time is certainly not at India’s disposal with just a day’s gap between the first two games. Traditionally sound players of spin, the Test and ODI specialists are still groping for answers when Ajantha Mendis comes on to bowl, and an eight-wicket drubbing at the same venue on Monday only reinforced his threat after the two defeats in the Tests.

The woeful situation is compounded by Virender Sehwag’s departure after twisting his ankle at practice. His double-century was the key to India’s victory in Galle and the two captains were only stating the obvious yesterday by stating his absence would be a big blow. That puts additional pressure on Gautam Gambhir as the man in form at the top, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who his opening partner will be. No replacement has been sought for Sehwag and questions will be raised over the omission of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have no such issues and will go in as firm favourites. The decision to play five specialist bowlers worked for them and not one bowler looked like a weak link.

Form guide (last 5 ODIs)

Sri Lanka WWLWW
India LLWLW

Watch out for:

Gautam Gambhir: His second-ball duck notwithstanding, Gambhir is India’s form batsman after Sehwag – his 310 runs was the second-highest aggregate in the Tests among batsmen of both teams. His ploy of walking down the pitch before a delivery may have an element of risk, but it only speaks of his confidence and intention of putting the bowler off his rhythm. Dhoni spoke about the importance of getting good starts, so it would fall upon Gambhir to bat responsibly without getting bogged down. With the limited resources available, Gambhir is probably India’s best bet at the moment.

Munaf Patel v Sri Lanka’s top order: The only saving grace for India on Monday was Munaf’s ability to keep Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara in check. He repeatedly got the ball to either cut back in or shape away from the off stump. In a match dominated by spinners, Munaf did the best he could in the conditions on offer, picking up the only wickets to fall in the chase.

Team news

India would be forced to re-assess their combination after the drubbing on Monday, especially at the top of the order with Sehwag’s departure. Experimenting with Virat Kohli as an opener didn’t work so it’s likely he will swap places with Irfan Pathan who has been successful in the past as a pinch-hitter. With Rohit Sharma struggling for runs, Mahendra Singh Dhoni might promote himself to No. 5.

India (likely) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Irfan Pathan, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Virat Kohli, 8 Pragyan Ojha, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Munaf Patel.

After the first ODI Mahela Jayawardene said Sri Lanka would retain the winning combination.

Sri Lanka (from) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Chamara Kapugedera, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Chaminda Vaas, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Thilan Thushara, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.

Pitch & conditions

The conditions are expected to be similar to the first one-dayer, so batting could get difficult once the spinners operate.

Stats & Trivia

  • Chaminda Vaas is only one wicket away from the 400-wicket club in ODIs. He will be the fourth after Wasim Akram, Muralitharan and Waqar Younis.

  • Mahela Jayawardene has been dismissed only once by India at this ground in four matches and his average stands at an astronomical 228.

  • Dambulla is India’s least favourite venue in Sri Lanka against the hosts, having lost all four matches to them.

  • Since January 2007, India have tried out 11 opening combinations in 57 innings. Only two of those pairs have batted together more than six times.
  • – About Cricket –

    Sandesh Kumar

    Sangakkara ton brings hopes for Sri Lanka

    August 9, 2008

    On the second day, Kumar Sangakkara, kept Sri Lanka’s nose ahead with a patient century. After Chaminda Vaas and Sangakkara had frustrated India in the first session, the Indian spinners fought back in the middle, drying up the runs and getting important wickets as a result, but they were denied by a rock-solid Sangakkara, and to a lesser extent by the inconsistent umpiring when it came to reviews.

    Sangakkara’s hundred competed with the review decision that went Thilan Samaraweera’s way as the talking point of the day. India had taken two wickets, those of Vaas and Mahela Jayawardene, for four runs to reduce Sri Lanka to 141 for 4, and should have made it three for 16 when Kumble’s appeal for an lbw against Samaraweera was rejected. In live time, it seemed there might have been an inside edge before the ball hit pad, but the replays clearly showed the ball hit the pad first. The impact was 40% inside the mat – as it was with Rahul Dravid when he was given out yesterday – and the ball would have gone on to hit the middle stump three-fourths of the way up. For some reason, though, the original decision was upheld, which left the Indians irate. Sachin Tendulkar, who had injured his elbow earlier, even signalled “out” from the dressing room. Samaraweera was on 5, then, and went on to score 35, and more importantly, put together a 60-run partnership with Sangakkara at a crucial juncture.

    Nothing should take away from Sangakkara, though, who curbed his stroke-playing instincts, realising that his wicket would have been critical. He made a dicey start in the morning with an uppish boundary past a diving Rohit Sharma at point, but was determined to make amends for his ordinary series till then. Before this Test, his average in 2008 was close to 24. Twice in the previous Tests, Zaheer Khan had caught him in the crease, making him play at legcutters. This time, though, Sangakkara consciously got on to the front foot, especially against Zaheer. Once he saw Zaheer off, there were no signs of struggle, and he was severe on anything loose.

    A big chance arrived for India when Sangakkara, on 34 then, edged a faster one from Kumble, but Rahul Dravid failed to latch on to what would have been a spectacular slip catch. To rub salt in, Sangakkara came up with an exquisite cover-drive off Harbhajan in the next over.

    After lunch India came out determined to make runs hard to get. In the first session Sri Lanka had managed 100, while in the first 11 overs of the second they got only 23. Harbhajan kept bowling outside off, while Kumble – from round the stumps – got purchase from the pitch. Vaas, the night-watchman who took ownership of the house in the first session, was strangled: he survived two close calls in one Kumble over, and in Harbhajan’s next, lobbed an easy catch to extra cover, falling two runs short of achieving the double of 3000 runs and 300 wickets. Harbhajan then beat Jayawardene with an offbreak, and for once Jayawardene got the review call wrong. He was given out lbw and that’s how it stayed.

    The Harbhajan-Kumble duo worked well in the middle session, and Zaheer bowled a testing spell after tea, giving away 21 runs in eight overs and eventually getting Samaraweera out with a delivery that bounced and left the batsman.

    Tillakaratne Dilshan, as usual, came out full of intent, and in partnership with Sangakkara started to break free. For 12 overs at one point towards stumps, Sri Lanka didn’t score a boundary, getting only 27 runs, but once Dilshan cut loose things began to look ominous for India. But Kumble, unfortunate not to have got a wicket till then, struck at the right time with a topspinner. Dilshan asked for the review, but he had been caught plumb. Given the tendency of lower orders to collapse dramatically, and also that Sri Lanka have to bat last, it would be brave to say that Sri Lanka have a clear advantage.

    – 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