Sri Lanka would have been fairly relieved when they learnt of Gautam Gambhir’s absence from the third Test. The relief didn’t last as Murali Vijay carried on from where Gambhir had left off.
It was an amazing day of cricket. I am not sure if there are too many instances of a team scoring nearly 400 in their first innings and then finding that the opposition 50 ahead at the end of Day Two! That’s Virender Sehwag for you.
Stitching a 200-run partnership will perhaps turn out to be the first step towards India moving to the No 1 spot in Test cricket. That Vijay got 87 of those speaks of the young man’s class. He seems to know how to grab his chances.
What can I say about Sehwag. He seemed determined to get through the early overs, and once he had done, he literally toyed with the bowling.
Two years back, prior to the tour of Australia, Sehwag was nowhere in the picture. On that tour itself, he repaid the faith I had showed in him. From then on, he has gone from strength to strength.
At one point, Kumar Sangakkara had an unusual field setting for the left arm spin of Rangana Herath. He had a deep square leg on both sides, one for the right-handed Sehwag and one for the left-handed Sehwag! I guess that’s what happens when someone middles the reverse sweep too!
As a bowler, there were no real options left. When up on a good pitch, the normal thing is to ask the bowlers to try and bowl, say something, like three maidens in a row, and generally keep the scoring rate to around three or less an over.
Here, Lankans didn’t bowl three maidens the whole day and the run rate was nearer to six. This also puts into perspective the Indian bowling on the opening day, doesn’t it? To restrict the Lankans to below 400 was a very good effort, with Harbhajan Singh’s four-wicket haul being the key.
For the Lankans, Tillakaratne Dilshan played a Sehwag-like innings, which was cut short, but then Sehwag’s hunger for big scores is something else.
His knack of converting the 100s into 200s and 200s into 300s simply astounds me. At the receiving end was the man who was expected to be the key bowler for the Lankans in the series.
For Muttiah Muralitharan, it seems as if the mind is willing but the body isn’t.
On a wicket like this, where this is bounce on offer, you need to bowl at a quicker pace but Murali just wasn’t able to do that.