Friday, August 01, 2008

See-sawing around Sehwag

The second Test match has become a bit schizophrenic in nature. When Sehwag is at the crease, the bowlers are merely hopeful while he plots his next run. When he is at the non-striker's end, all the doubts and demons in the minds of the batsmen come out to prey on their confidence. Murali and Mendis were completely ineffective against Sehwag. Gambhir and Laxman also played them with a measure of certainty but lost their wicket to balls they should have negotiated quite easily. But once the breakthrough was made, and Laxman departed, Mendis came to the fore. The rest of the Indian batsmen succumbed to him without having a clue about which way his deliveries would turn. Based upon these performances it is quite apparent that Sri Lanka should be able to run through many tails in the years to come. And when Lasith Malinga comes back, they will only get more potent. Watch out Australia!

Sehwag turned down two singles when on 199 in an attempt to shield Ishant Sharma from the strike. Those two singles will probably do a lot more, in my mind, for his stature than the massive centuries he has been piling up in the last 5 years.

The Sri Lankan innings began in a blaze of boundaries and it looked like they would run away with the game until Harbhajan got a fortuitous wicket against the run of play. Once Harbhajan got that wicket, he was suddenly transformed into a close rendition of the Bhajji of old. Could his troubles of late have merely been an issue of confidence? It will take more than just one good spell to convince me of that. After all, he has been sliding by with numerous bad spells of late, to have the slate wiped clean by one spell. With 4 wickets in the last session he clawed the game back towards India, albeit slightly.

Mahela Jayawardane, currently on the verge of another half-century, holds the key to the match. I agree with Sanjay Manjrekar's assesment on CricInfo radio, on the current state of this match:
SM: I see India slightly ahead at this stage. Mahela Jayawardene is obviously the key and if Sri Lanka get close to India's first-innings score, they will be the favourites purely because of the batting form the Indians have shown. Most of India's batsmen have been out of form and only one or two have shown some semblance of form. Sehwag, obviously, but he is in a different league. Gautam Gambhir has shown some confidence and to a lesser degree VVS Laxman.

If Sri Lanka are bundled out with more than 50-75 runs, then India are still in the game. But if Sri Lanka get very close, then they will be the fancied team. At this stage today, at the end of day two, India have a slight advantage.
I will be traveling the next couple of days so my blogging and cricket-watching will be severely hampered. The last time I was unable to follow an India Test match on its third and fourth days because I was traveling, I missed Laxman's career-changing moment. What will the outcome be this time?

No comments: