Most cricket stadia in the sub-continent are tailor-made for batsmen. Especially, when it comes to limited-over formats.
The Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is an exception. Thanks to the soil, the track assists bowlers —seamers and spinners. This makes life difficult for batsmen, especially those from the sub-continent, who are not used to the moving ball.
It's not a surprise that the venue has witnessed only two 300-plus totals in the 39 matches played here before Thursday's New Zealand versus Sri Lanka tie.
Considering the movement and bounce that fast bowlers have been able to generate, Sri Lanka pace spearhead Lasith Malinga can rip through a side in no time. Not that Malinga, with his slinging action, requires assistance from the wicket to bowl his lethal yorkers, but if he has a wicket that aids his bowling, he can be even more dangerous, given the movement he generates both ways.
Four India batsmen made the best of an optional nets session, by devising means of tackling the slinger. Even though the others preferred to rest on the last day of the three-day break, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Saurabh Tiwary and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja spent two hours at the practice facility on Thursday morning. Later, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel along with coach Gary Kirsten and bowling coach Eric Simons joined them.
The talking point of the session remained Malinga as Karthik, the opening bat, explained the unusual trajectory and movement of the ball once the round-arm bowler released it.
After discussing it, Simons simulated Malinga's angle with his throw-downs to help the batsmen get used to the bowler's unusual action. To their advantage, they found a round-arm bowler among the local net bowlers.
The seriousness of the Malinga factor ahead of India's tie against Sri Lanka on Sunday was underlined when the local paceman was asked to join the team's full-fledged preparatory session on Friday. With the conditions not favourable for India batsmen, it's not a surprise that lesser-experienced batsmen like Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have failed to make a mark in India's two matches so far. The trio has managed just 28 runs in five combined outings.
But Virender Sehwag, who single-handedly helped India register their maiden victory against Sri Lanka on Monday, did not read too much into the trio's performance ahead of next year's World Cup.
"Dambulla traditionally has been a bowlers' paradise rather than being a batsman-friendly wicket. So, for them it's a learning opportunity," said Sehwag.
"But it will be better if you don't read too much into their performance over here."