Match Reports from the 1st two tests sent in by Dilz, our man on the ground in SL
Well it’s been a real battering for the Asian cricketing giants in India and Sri Lanka with the unexpected hammerings at the hands of the newly crowned number 1 side ,the ruthless England and a new look, consistent Australian team.
Sri Lanka have been disappointing and have shown terrible inconsistency in match form and fluency starting from the shock 2-3 defeat against a young, depleted Australian team on home conditions favoring them. Now the trend has continued to the 3 match test series with the much under rated Aussie team coming out with trumps in the first test match in Galle, totally outclassing the Lankans, taming the Lions to the extent that there was virtually little “Lion courage” shown. The second game which was played in Pallekelle showcased another pathetic first innings performance by the Lankans as they were shot out for 174 on a good batting wicket.Aussies in reply slammed the Lankan bowlers to all corners and amassed over 400 runs to show their opponents how to bat in test cricket.
More importantly the tough pitch at Galle has been rated poor by Match Referee Chris Broad since the bowlers for once in a blue moon had a hay day in Sri Lanka.
Lankans falling to its own trap
When you play at home with an excellent track record, in front of your crowd and favorable weather conditions and pitches, playing against a depleted team, you got to back the Lankans to win it. But when you have a pitch that turns from leg slip to first slip and when the sole spinner in the Aussie team, Nathan Lyon a rookie, a debutant, by no means a Shane Warne or even an ever improving Graeme Swann rips through a batting order that grew up playing spin, you got to be duly worried.Sri Lanka got it all wrong in Galle, starting from the pitch, to the team combination, to the defensive attitude to the reckless batting. The pitch prepared by curator Jacaranda Warnaweera was tailor made for spin bowling but offered some reverse swing to the pacies as well which was utilized by the Aussie pacemen. Unfortunately this wicket which favored the bowlers relatively has been reported by Match Referee Chris Broad to the ICC.Well we live in a batsmen dominated world,pity the poor bowlers!!!!!!!!!!
It is no secret that usually Sri Lanka gives a spin web in Galle for non – Asian teams for Mural to do the rest and win them the match. But with Mural retired, you wouldn’t get the same deadly impact even if you play three spinners in the side. Knowing that conditions and the result oriented pitch and the likes of Watson,Haddin and Hughes weakness against spin,Sri Lanka should have gone with a three spin attack with Sure Randiv,Rangana Hearth and Ajanta Mendes or Secure Prasanna.I know that some cricket pundits were shocked when Mendes wasn’t in the final 11 considering he bamboozled a rookie Aussie line up in the 2nd T 20 game,but the likes of Clarke,Ponting and Hussey would have played Mendes with much ease and these days Mendes has forgotten to turn the ball.Giving a debut to skiddy leg spinner Seekuge Prasanna who bowls a bit like Shahid Afridi would have been a good move.
However the batting in the first innings by the Lankans was pathetic.Being rolled out for just 105 in a pitch where you should adapt yourself and not get bogged down was a disgrace. Dashing captain Dilshan had the nerve to say that he woudn’t change his batting style and his shots, given the fact that his irresponsible stroke play opened the flood gates of the batting order.I don’t have a huge problem with Dilshan’s daring stroke play since he doesn’t know any other way,but he needs to adapt to the conditions more,try not to hit every ball like in T 20s and shoulder more responsibility since he is a senior pro, the opener and more importantly the Captain.The other opener Tharanga Paranawithana had a disaster of match.First he ran out Sri Lanka’s “prince of spin’ Mahela Jayawardena in the 1st innings and he got bogged down afterwards. In the 2 innings,he was given out to a ball which pitched a tough outside leg stump, given that UDRS was there, he should have asked his non striker Dilshan and consulted the 3rd umpire, but he was pretty satisfied with the decision much to the dismay of the Lankan fans. Kumar Sangakkara was disappointing with the bat as well as a more attacking mind set would have given him some runs under the belt. Dilshan’s captaincy was at times quite defensive with his boundary riders and willing to give the batsmen a single and he was also the culprit of not using his pacies to trouble the batsmen with reverse swing. Maybe he needs to take a leaf out of Michael Clarke’s book about aggressive field setting.
The exciting Aussie bowling talent
There were umpteen times when people went on that Australia wouldn’t win test matches without Mcgrath,Warne and Gillespie,Lee and Mcgill to a lesser extent.But the Aussie selectors played their cards carefully and rested probably their most in form ODI bowler Ryan Harris(43 wickets in just 17 ODIs) from the 5 match ODI series to be rearing and fresh for the test matches.Former curator and a veteran of just “4 first class matches” looks to be promising with his drift,flight and turn but will be tested in flat beds like SSC.However a Doug Bollinger would have given chills down the spine to the Lankan batsmen with his accurate and aggressive left arm swing bowling but so called “fitness issues” had him axed from the test squad.Stuart Clarke like bowler Trent Copeland hit the line and lengths beautifully and extracted bounce as well as seam movement and a yard or two in pace would make him quite a handful.The Aussie squad also boasts the likes of the “Vicious” Peter Siddle and rookie pacie James Pattinson in the ranks along with the express Mitchel Johnson.So in the years to come one could expect one of the most exciting and consistent bowling attacks in the world.
Rain saves the Pallekelle game for Lankans
The Lankan team had to bear the unexpected loss of leaving out Rangana Herath who took 8 wickets in the Galle match due to an injury and more importantly “Mystery spinner” Ajantha Mendis was ruled out as he was carrying a back injury.A depleted Lankan 11 fielded a debutant leg spinner Seekuge Prasanna for the game while for Aussies the baggy green cap was given by a proud dad Geoff Marsh to his eldest t son Shaun Marsh.The Lankans yet again played very poorly,batted like meek lambs and surrendered for just 174 on a great surface for batting. The Aussies in reply had no problems what so ever and they actually batted like ‘the home team” while Shaun Marsh scored a brilliant 100 on debut and Mr. Cricket Mike Hussey continued from Galle and hit a marvelous 100 as well.The Lankan bowlers couldn’t put any brakes to the Aussie batting juggernaut and they declared on 411 for 7 with rain interrupting on every possible session much to the luck of the Lankans.Lankans in reply batted better in their second innings but then a huge shower came along and save them from a near defeat.
Dilz is a cricket journo in SL.