During his pre-match interaction with the media on Sunday, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had hinted that the team management was considering the option of fielding three mediumpacers and a spinner for the second Test against Sri Lanka.
However, come Monday morning India retained the same four bowlers who had been ineffective in the first Test at Galle last week. As a result, it wasn't a surprise to see the scorecard at the end of the opening day once Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat. The hosts had garnered 312 runs for the loss of two wickets, almost replicating the opening day's performance in Galle.
The same two batsmen who had scored centuries last week — opener Tharanga Paranavitana and skipper Kumar Sangakkara — added tons to their kitty, exposing the fragile Indian bowling attack yet again. While Harbhajan Singh bowled well for a better part of the day and rookie Abhimanyu Mithun bowled well in patches, neither the duo nor Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha could stop the Sri Lankans from scoring at will.
The fact that Harbhajan, despite being the pick of the bowlers, could not bowl a maiden over in the first two sessions underlines the failure of the bowling unit to put any pressure on the Sri Lankan line-up.
"When we started (attacking), they went on the back foot. Then Tharanga and Sanga batted without taking any risks," Sri Lanka opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, who wasted an opportunity to score a big hundred after racing to 54, said. "Today I don't think there was any problem for the batsmen. Mahela is also batting well. With him and Sanga in the middle, there's lot of confidence."
So far in the series, the four Indian specialist bowlers have been successful in picking up just nine wickets in the 205 overs they have bowled. What's even more alarming is that they have conceded almost four runs an over so far.
Though Suresh Raina felt the bowlers "kept it tight" on the opening day at SSC, he did rue the lack of numbers in the wickets column. "We bowled really well, especially after lunch and tea," Raina said. "We didn't give them much room, at the same time we need to take wickets, so it is important to do well in the morning session."
If the Indian bowlers do not strike regularly on Tuesday, the dream of winning a series in Sri Lanka will definitely be forgotten with more than half of the series still to be played.