In the first 45 minutes of the inaugral Test against Sri Lanka, India must be wondering what hit them. The top order was dismantled and left in a disarray. Rahul Dravid's heroics aside — and that of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni later — it wasn't a pitch that warranted such a collapse.
Motera didn't depart from its script at all. It needs attention for the first hour-and-a-half and then the batsmen can have a feast. Chanaka Welegedara bowled a few excellent deliveries and the one to Sachin Tendulkar was an absolute beauty, but that still doesn't explain the collapse.
Fortunately, Dravid was in his elements. He has had a few big knocks at this venue but Monday's was vital in more than one respect. Dravid looked to score at all times and this was very refreshing and great to see. I think it took even the Lankans by surprise. He was prepared to hit over the infield and against the spin of Muttiah Muralitharan and that kept the fielders honest.
Yuvraj was no less a delight. His footwork against Murali was assured and, unlike his earlier days, he is now prepared for spinning deliveries to hit his bat rather than him reaching out to them. His was a critical knock for it kept India in the business.
With India going at over four runs an over right through the partnership, it was a brilliant counter-attack. Dhoni was brilliant in taking on from where Yuvraj left and, with Dravid batting as if there was no scoreboard in existence, the balance quickly shifted in India's favour.
It also showed that the pitch was a really good one where, I believe the batsman will continue to feast provided the application is there. The bowlers will have to work really hard to earn wickets and that includes the Indian bowlers as well.
Zaheer Khan is returning and Ishant Sharma has a few things on his plate and so the Lankans would certainly look to psychologically pin them down. Harbhajan Singh has still to show that he is in a groove, while Amit Mishra has to hit the ground running.