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Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, PSS, Colombo, 2nd day
Sanjay Manjrekar: India need to restrict lead to 25 runs
August 9, 2008
Sangakkara's century gives SL the lead and India need early wickets tomorrow to stay in this Test
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Kumar Sangakkara has really dug deep: he assesed the situation and knew that runs wouldn't come easily and he realised that he had to keep his wicket intact © AFP

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. @sanjaymanjrekar

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Posted by rakesh on (August 10, 2008, 5:55 GMT)

Ravi Shastri keeps on saying that the memory of Indian public is too short. When the Indians had played out of their skins in the recent series down under, the public had gone bizzare and heaped praise on the players like anything, but when Indians are not upto the mark in the next series(against srilanka), the public have switched their opinion.

One more thing that I feel so bad is the way they dig at laxman when the middle order doesnt perform. Laxman is always made the scapegoat(I am not a blind supporter of laxman btw). In the recent times, I dont think there is a player in the Indian team better than laxman who has performed well when most needed. The same thing holdsgood for sachin,kumble, sourav(considering his recent performances) as well to an extent.

Posted by Stone cold on (August 10, 2008, 4:35 GMT)

The problem in indian team, I feel is that the batsmen always look for big scores. They dont like to have 50 & 60's under their belts. They dont play as a team. Teamwork is very important. They should start looking to build partnerships. In that way the team will win more tests.

Posted by zaheer on (August 10, 2008, 3:54 GMT)

The current problem with the indian team is their inability to hold the crease for a longer time...In this series we always had a good opening start which was wasted by the middle order batsmen.The problem might be psychological as they are disturbed by the domination of youth in one day cricket, possible chances for them in test cricket also,high offerings from Ipl which gives an idea to retire early.All these created a sort of confusion in their mind which clearly shows out in their poor performances to be addressed by the coach gary kirsten.Going by the current game, India has to make early inroads in order to restrict SL in their lead.Otherwise it will cost them the series.the pitch is gettin slower n turning.So india need to have a lead of more than 250 in their 2nd innnings atleast to have a chance.Kumble is the only bowler who hasnt shown character throughout the series. He is fading with his variety of bowling.Maybe he is nearing his career end.he should give a thought abt it.

Posted by Shridhar on (August 10, 2008, 1:30 GMT)

Hi, I don't understand why Kumble did not give chance to Shewag to bowl is off-spinners. When wickets were to hard to come by, you need to try different things. Steve Waugh was one of the very good captains and tried different combination of part time bowlers to get wickets.Are thee Indian captains dumb without imaginations? I am very frustrated the way Kumble handled bowlers when wickets not falling. Can someone teach time or give training?


Posted by Dhaval on (August 9, 2008, 21:02 GMT)

I reckon that the lead should not be an access of 50 runs. India have to bowl out srilanka under 50 runs lead otherwise as manjrekar has said Ajantha Mendis-Muttiah Muralitharan combination could swing the game in Sri Lanka's favour.

I would also like to add 1 comment here regarding India's middle order. They have not played as they are known for. I am not happy with the performance by Sachin, Dravid, Laxman & Ganguly. They have lost their way and trying to play more defensive. At last Indian must bowl out srilanka under 300 runs. Then the match will be on. THANKS TO CRICINFO.

Posted by sunil on (August 9, 2008, 17:06 GMT)

Sanjay: I could not agree with you on 25 run lead. Srilanka is a tough team and to get them out quickly is a tall order. Kumble has lost a lot of edge lately, he need help from some one like Piyush Chawla.

Good Luck

Posted by Ravish on (August 9, 2008, 15:38 GMT)

Dravid is basically making a mockery of all the selectors who keep picking him again and again over other in-form batsman. Dropped catches, flop with the bat... This has been going on for more than year now. It appears that Tendulkar, Laxman, and Sourav also joined him in this series. India cannot have too many out-of-form batsman and lackluster bowlers in the team. If that happens the people who have been flopping for the longest have to go. Dravid should be dropped and Kumble should follow him too. The other three should also be given a short leash - may another series to regain their forms. If not, it is time to start phasing them out one-by-one within the next year. Age does not matter and so does the youth. Only performance matters and on these matters Dravid and Kumble are failing miserably.

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