'We will not forget Viru’s effort'
For the Indian cricket team the manner in which Sehwag and Gambhir gave it the early momentum, while still protecting the opening partnership, was something crucial, writes Anil Kumble.Spl: Mission Sri LankaUpdated: Aug 05, 2008 00:22 IST
It was good to win the Galle Test in the manner that we did. It was something we needed after the first Test where we were outplayed and, as a team, felt hurt.
If you’ve played competitive sport, you will know that there is nothing to match that winning feeling. We always knew we had it in us to come back strongly but to actually go out there and put this in practice and wrap up the win inside four days was something special.
The faith that we had in the team, not just one or two players but in each individual who took the field for India, was well repaid. The think-tank had reposed faith in the group even though they had come in for considerable criticism and this ensured we could come through with a comfortable win.
In any Test match it’s critical how you start, whether it is with the batting or with the bowling.
For us, the manner in which Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave us the early momentum, while still protecting the opening partnership, was something crucial.
Just looking back at Sehwag’s knock in the first innings, I’m actually struggling for words to describe just how incredible it was.
To score more than 60 per cent of the runs the team made and bat through the innings was the kind of effort the team is not going to forget for some time to come. What’s more, the opening stand in the second innings was crucial too because we did not want any early hiccups.
Once the batsmen had laid the base, the bowlers came through. In Sri Lanka’s first innings, they were placed comfortably at 137 for 1 at one stage and the way in which our bowlers combined to pull them back and get a decisive lead gave us a lot of confidence. Harbhajan Singh bowled exceptionally right through the Test match — it was a quality effort from him.
On the final day, when we needed a bit of a boost to seal the deal, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma came through in style. After the two quicks picked up early wickets, the target of 307 suddenly became a huge ask for the Sri Lankans.
On a fourth-day pitch, with nothing much in it really, for a 19-year-old like Ishant to bend his back consistently over a long spell and repeatedly extract extra bounce was a great effort. Zaheer also picked up the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara just when we needed it.
Our team showed just the right kind of controlled aggression through the course of the Test and we came out on top.
The middle-order batsmen got a look in and although none of them went on to make a good score, they were much more in control of the proceedings than in the first Test.
Ajantha Mendis once again had an impact, picking up his first 10-wicket haul in just his second Test.
But this middle-order is so full of runs, quality and experience that it’s not a major worry for me.
We won the Galle Test convincingly despite not having a big score from the middle-order and that’s good in a way because it’s only a matter of time before one of them plays a substantial knock and then we will be a really formidable team.