Colombo 3rd Test – India& Sri Lanka Share Honours on Day 1

Sri Lanka ended the first day of the third test against Sri Lanka, at 293/4. Samaraweera on 75 not out represents the main threat to India’s well being, on day two. He has company in Mathew. Batting on 26, Mathew has been at the wicket long enough to have gauged it.

So unless the batsmen do something silly, or the bowlers bowl exceedingly well, the scoreboard seems to weigh in Sri Lanka’s favour. But on a wicket that had a little more help for bowlers than the pitch in the 2nd test match at the SSC ground, neither side can be said to have a definite advantage, at this stage.

Sri Lanka will be looking to take the total to 450 and beyond. India will try and keep Sri Lanka down to less than 400. The funny thing about most international cricket played these days is that nobody, neither the expert commentators nor the curator, knows exactly how the wicket is going to behave.

So when the batsmen dominate the bowlers, should we give credit to the batsmen, or say the bowlers did a bad job, or that the wicket was unhelpful? A clue could be found in the manner of dismissals. A soft dismissal, or in other words a wicket that wasn’t deserved by the bowler, often indicates a change in fortunes.

To that extent, Dilshan’s needless run out on the last ball before lunch would qualify. But thereafter, neither Sangakkara nor Mahela J had much trouble negotiating the bowling. Notwithstanding the odd Ojha delivery beating the bat. Then came Sangakkara’s dismissal. Definitely, a soft dismissal. From a position of relative comfort at 102/1, Sri Lanka were 157/3. This is where Indian bowlers should have come to the party and didn’t. So, if we assume that the wicket was helpful, we must blame the bowlers.

Looking at the big picture, we see that as many as three top order batsmen lost their wickets when they were set. They went for fifties and failed to make hundreds that were there for the asking. That must be a consolation for India. Because they have got 4 top order batsmen out, and an early wicket in the morning could help dismiss Sri Lanka before lunch.

Rahul Dravid has not made many runs in this series and he is due for a big one. India will need all the grafting they can muster if as the experts would have us believe there is something in this wicket for bowlers. So this could be ‘advantage India’ if they manage to see the Sri Lankan innings to its end by lunch.

From Sri Lanka’s point of view, the LBW shouts on the day should mean good news, as Mendis has the ability to make the ball skid. No matter what the Indian batsmen say about having sorted Mendis out, the fact remains that he got 4 wickets in the last Indian innings, and India have lost 30 wickets in three innings.

So the longer Sri Lanka bat, the bigger the worries for the Indian batsmen. Is it just me, or does everyone see something funny in the way India get lucky with the toss when they play at home, and Sri Lanka get lucky likewise when they are the hosts.

The nature of wickets in both countries is similar. Yet, the batsmen of both teams, champions at home, seem to flounder when they play at the rival’s grounds, if it is not 100% batsman friendly. Is it the crowd support for the hosts, or some psychological aspect of the tourists that makes this happen?

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