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India ride S-class on dead track

Five centuries, including two double tons. Five fifties, including a 99. Each wicket costing more than 100 runs on an average. No doubt, the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) strip has lived up to curator Anuruddha Polonowita’s prediction of being "full of runs" during the first four days of India's second Test against Sri Lanka.

cricket Updated: Jul 30, 2010 01:15 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Five centuries, including two double tons. Five fifties, including a 99. Each wicket costing more than 100 runs on an average. No doubt, the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) strip has lived up to curator Anuruddha Polonowita’s prediction of being "full of runs" during the first four days of India's second Test against Sri Lanka. Numbers Game

However, not many would compliment the curator for offering a track that hasn't allowed a fair contest between bat and ball.

Agreed, wickets in the subcontinent are a bowlers' nightmare on the first two days, but most good wickets start offering turn and bounce, invariable in some cases, as the track wears out.

The surface at SSC has not crumbled at all, remaining rock solid on Thursday, the penultimate day, as it was on the first day. Despite Kumar Sangakkara scoring a double ton at his favourite venue, Sachin Tendulkar (203) converting his 48th century into a fifth double century and Suresh Raina (120) accomplishing a rare feat of scoring a ton in his maiden knock, the cumulative attendance over all four days is less than half of SSC's capacity of 10,000. And you can't blame the spectators for staying away.

With the advent of Twenty20, the International Cricket Council is concerned about the future of Test cricket.

Probably, it's time the governing body puts its foot down and instead of introducing day-night Tests, ensures that Tests are played on wickets that offer an even contest between bat and ball.

Despite the placid track, nothing can be taken away from Tendulkar and Raina. The duo, during the fifth wicket association of 256 runs, first helped India avoid follow-on, then ensured the match will end in a draw by batting on till lunch.

As a result, the duo has also kept India's hopes of retaining their No 1 ranking in Tests, after the series, alive.

After being made to grind for 10-and-a-half hours in sweltering conditions, both Tendulkar and Raina were supreme in their application. While Tendulkar was determined to rescue the team from the jaws of defeat, something he failed to do in Galle, Raina knew he was fortunate to have got an opportunity in the middle order and did not waste it.

Once Tendulkar and Raina were off the blocks, hitting offie Suraj Randiv for a boundary and a six, respectively, in the third over of the day, it was clear they were not going to repeat the Galle disaster.

When the two returned to the pavilion at lunch, unbeaten on 152 and 112 respectively, they had ensured the remaining

five sessions of the match would just count for personal milestones. For the record, India finished the day at 669 for nine, 27 runs ahead of Lanka's 642 for four declared.