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Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar to analyse the play on day two of the second Test between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Sanjay, Sri Lanka have taken a slim lead and they have just four wickets in hand. Do you think the match is evenly posed or are Sri Lanka just ahead, since Kumar Sangakkara is still at the crease?
Sanjay Manjrekar: I think you are right . Sangakkara unbeaten on a century is where Sri Lanka have a slight advantage. But the nature of pitches we have seen in the last two Tests gives India the hope that maybe they can get two early wickets tomorrow and restrict the lead to just about 20-25 runs which may not have such an effect on the match. If that happens then we could be back to even-stevens after the first two innings. But having Sangakkara at the crease is what gives Sri Lanka the advantage at this stage.
AR: Sri Lanka put on 100 runs in the first session without losing a wicket. Where did you think the Indian bowlers went wrong?
SM: This is something that happened to the Indian bowlers in the first Test. When they are on top and are in good bowling form, they tend to get a bit attacking. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble are always looking for wickets and it is only when they don't have a good session that they start bowling in a tight, disciplined manner, concentrating on one side of the wicket.
We talked about Harbhajan's success in the last Test: how he bowled a fuller length and invited the batsmen to play a few shots on a turning pitch which worked beautifully at Galle. Here, batsmen scored off him. So there was lack of discipline from the Indian bowlers in the first session. They immediately corrected that in the next session, by bowling a slightly negative line outside the off stump which was what was needed. I also thought Ishant Sharma and Kumble were slightly lacklustre in the morning session.
AR: Parthiv Patel has made his Test comeback after 2004. What did you make of his work behind the stumps?
SM: Unfortunately the poor fellow got hit on the nose. He was pretty brave to continue and I hope he recovers quickly. He has had few good takes behind the stumps but I have just one problem with Indian wicketkeepers: during the course of a single day's play in a Test, they always miss four or five straightforward collections. Not difficult takes, rather balls left alone by the batsman, coming straight at them and they miss it. Dinesh Karthik has done that and so has Parthiv, more than once, in this Test. That worries me.
AR: You have spoken about Sangakkara's knock. Could it be the defining innings of this Test?
SM: It might well turn out to be so. I got the feeling Sangakkara changed his approach after he came in to bat. I think he assessed the situation and realised that runs are not going to be easy to come by and there will be wickets falling. The conditions we have had here and at Galle haven't been typical Sri Lankan conditions, where the batsman, once he gets past 30, knows he is going to get a big score. In the last two Tests, the conditions have been such that the batsman who gets in knows it is not going to be easy. That is where Sangakkara has really dug deep: he knew that runs wouldn't come easily and he realised he had to be the man who had to keep his wicket intact because he couldn't depend too much on his partners to get runs.
AR: You have mentioned how India will look to concede a lead of just 20-25 runs. How do you see both teams approaching play tomorrow?
SM: It's difficult to predict how the day could pan out. India will be looking to get Sangakkara early. Sangakkara, on the other hand, could have a slightly different approach tomorrow. He might see how Prasanna Jayawardene goes at the other end and if he feels he can't rely too much on him, he might get a bit more attacking. Every additional run tomorrow will put pressure on the Indians.
The Indians have a few injury worries as well. Sachin Tendulkar has not had a great series so far, plus he will have a sore elbow coming into the second innings, so it remains to be seen how he will react to that. Who knows, that could just get him all charged up. I think VVS Laxman will be severely hampered while batting with his twisted ankle. And Ishant Sharma will not be there to bowl for India tomorrow. So there are a few problems for India.
But I think the main advantage that Sri Lanka have is the Ajantha Mendis-Muttiah Muralitharan combination is looking far more dangerous than the Harbhajan-Kumble combination. So that's the reason I am slightly in favour of Sri Lanka for this Test. India need to concede a very small lead, otherwise it could get tougher for them.
AR: Thank you Sanjay for your views. We will hear from you again tomorrow.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here
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