Friday, August 6, 2010


The 3rd Test between India and Sri Lanka hangs in balance. On Day 5, all results are possible... India need 204 runs, Sri Lanka need 7 wickets (which will include the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni).

There is also a third possibility... a tie! Well, lets not get into that.

The best part about Day 5 of this Test is that every fan will believe in his side. The Indian fan knows that 204 is modest for the class of SRT and VVS! The Sri Lankan fan knows that on this turf, his team can make a mountain out of that 204!

This Test has been a good advertisement for Test cricket and as an Indian fan, I'll obviously like to see those 204 runs scored tomorrow. But as a cricket fan, I'd like to see a close finish to the Test. A 1- or 2-wicket win for India or a 10- or 15-run win for Sri Lanka (hope it's the former, not the latter)!

I think the key for India would be to see the ball through to 35 overs. Once the ball is that old, it does not get that bite from the pitch and any turn is slow, therefore easily negotiable. We saw that in India's first innings, Laxman and Raina shared a 30-over partnership after Sehwag fell in the 41st over. In the Sri Lankan second innings, first Samaraweera - Malinga shared a 11-over partnership and then Samaraweera - Mendis shared a 38-over partnership after the 32nd over when the 7th wicket fell.

If India has a one 30-over partnership, it will mean 100 runs in the bank and Sri Lanka will be back under pressure. Since this ball is already 18 overs old, the batsmen will need to tread carefully for about 1 hour in the morning before they can breathe a little easy (that is obviously if they have not seen too much damage in that first hour). After 30-35 overs, the spinners can be safely negotiated from the backfoot. Randiv will cease to be too much of a threat then... though Mendis might still be a little tricky. The natural pace of a Mendis delivery is more than that of an average spinner... and that might trouble the batsmen tomorrow. And yes, Lasith Malinga can trouble any batsman on any pitch.

So Indian batsmen cannot afford to completely relax after the first hour... but the job will definitely be a lot easier if the first hour is safe.

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