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Sight Screen

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The win

Sri Lanka has fielded better sides than this without managing to win a single Test in India -- so the Kotla result probably doesn't come as either surprise, or cause for undue celebration.
In his summation, Dileep Premchandran highlights the one man who could really have played the leadership role, but didn't. Kumar Sangakarra has what it takes to be inspirational -- as it turns out, though, Dileep suggests that his play did his team a disservice.
Then, with 436 needed for victory, or close to five sessions to bat out for the draw, they made serene progress to 109 for 1 before Kumar Sangakkara went for one of those lazy wafts that have blighted his career from time to time. The slice to point that cost him his wicket in the first innings was even more appalling, and the casual air with which he appears to approach the task on hand will have to be shed if comparisons to Adam Gilchrist are not to prove the stuff of mirth.
Batting gaffes aside, it was Sangakkara's keeping - or lack of it - that saved India from lurching into a crisis on the opening day. They were 152 for 3 when Sourav Ganguly gave Muttiah Muralitharan the charge, and Sangakkara fluffed the stumping chance, despite having time enough to effect two dismissals. It was a pivotal moment in the match, and Ganguly went on to help Sachin Tendulkar add 102 more for the fourth wicket.

More to the point (and somewhat surprising, since I remember reading the other day that fans at the Kotla kept applauding him and calling him 'Captain Ganguly') is this bit -- reprehensible, says Dileep, and short of using expletives, that is as good an adjective as any:
The sour note, and there was one, was the fans' sporadic heckling of Ganguly. You'd think that a man who'd led India to 21 Test victories - a record far superior to any other leader - would be granted some respect, but some Neanderthals masquerading as fans thought otherwise. His Test career could conceivably be over after the selectors wielded the axe this afternoon, but this was a reprehensible way to farewell a man who has contributed immeasurably to India's emergence as a major cricketing force over the past decade.

In his own summation, Charlie Austin takes the Sri Lankan selectors to task:
The selectors - the Ashantha de Mel-led committee, that time - made the same blunder during Sri Lanka's last Asian tour, against Pakistan in November 2004, where Atapattu was forced to blood a youngster (ironically, Jehan Mubarak on that occasion too, which must have been incredibly hard for him too and hardly helpful for his career) against his will after Dilshan, the scorer of Test hundreds against England and Australia during the preceding 12 months, was unceremoniously axed without consultation.
The sight of Avishka Gunawardene walking out to bat in Jayasuriya's absence must be a regular source of amusement in the Indian dressing room. Gunawardene is a fierce hitter of the cricket ball and a regular shredder of average bowlers. But his cement-like footwork leaves him exposed against top-flight bowling and during this series he has looked out of his depth once again. His inclusion in the side, ahead of Jayasuriya, and then ahead of Ian Daniel and even Michael Vandort is baffling.
....
It does not help that the explanations for the selector's decisions appear to change each week. One minute Jayasuriya is dropped for poor form and two media releases later it is because of poor fitness. No explanation was offered for the non-inclusion of Arnold either. Surely it is madness that selectors, immensely powerful individuals with a country's cricketing set-up, are not even expected to explain the rationale behind their decisions?

Anand Vasu pays tribute to Man of the Match Anil Kumble:
More than any other bowler, he has turned up, day-in and day-out, and bowled his heart out, irrespective of the surface. It was no different here. When the Test began, it was clear that this was no traditional Kotla track. Bald at both ends but grassy down the middle, the pitch was slow and had little bounce. Kumble's greatest strength has been his ability to apply pressure on batsmen and out-think them, using his height and pace to extract extra bounce and surprise batsmen. On this pitch he sized up the situation early on, cut down on his overall pace, and used the quicker slider to great effect.

And to round off the Test coverage, quotes from the captains, and the Sri Lankan coach.

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