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Manjrekar: Sri Lankan turnaround unikely

Sanjay Manjrekar looks back on the second Test (07:21)

November 27, 2009


India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 4th day

Manjrekar: Sri Lankan turnaround unikely

November 27, 2009

Sreesanth with the match ball, India v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Kanpur, 4th day, November 27, 2009
Manjrekar: "Sreesanth made the difference -he got the ball to do something off the pitch which not too many bowlers managed" © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I am joined by Sanjay Manjrekar to look at India's resounding victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test in Kanpur. Incidentally this was India's 100th Test win and also their third-biggest Test win, in terms of runs.

Sanjay, opening thoughts on India's performance?

Sanjay Manjrekar: Well it's a win that India should be very proud of. I think it was very good win because when the Test series started we were talking about how evenly matched the two teams were. Sri Lanka showed what they were capable of in the first Test; they showed that they have ample batting ability. Even though their spinners were a little disappointing at Ahmedabad, they had the talent with three very good spinners. They are a good fielding side and when it comes to Tests they have the temperament to play for time and keep playing quality cricket for five days; they don't have the rush of blood that we see with Pakistan. So they are a difficult team to beat and I still feel that this is one of the stronger Sri Lankan teams to come to India. So beating this team fair and square is a very impressive win.

AR: Talking about impressive, Sreesanth, in his comeback Test, was very impressive putting in a Man-of-the-Match performance. What impressed you the most about his bowling?

SM: It's a bit like a dream isn't it? You are out of international cricket for a while and so many things have happened to Sreesanth off the field that this [his comeback] is almost something that you fantasize about.

Comebacks are never easy; there is a lot more pressure when you are coming back rather than when you are playing your first Test and this was like a dream come true for him. Sreesanth came in with fresh thoughts and that is one of the advantages that you have when you have a guy with a clean slate coming into a Test. What was striking about Sreesanth was that he was looking to hit the stumps. The pitch was flat but he was probably thinking about the hitting the stumps every time he was running in.

A lot of modern-day seamers talk about hitting the right areas which are generally just outside the off stump. Most modern-day seamers, when they are running into bowl are thinking of keeping the runs down and when you set a strong off-side field that is what they are looking at. This is a ploy that can work on lively pitches, or when you have five bowlers, two or three bowlers can have this kind of a mindset. But Sreesanth is different. Every time I have seen him bowl, when he is running he is not thinking so much about containing runs as he is about getting wickets. The way he started off in that first innings bowling to Kumar Sangakkara after Tillakaratne Dilshan got out, the rhythm looked good in that little period that he bowled and the ball was coming out nicely from the wrist and really, it was his attitude of looking to get wickets, attacking the stumps and making things happen was what turned things around for him.

AR: This pitch was severely criticised, it was called a graveyard for bowlers. Yet is has produced a result in under four days. What are your thoughts on the pitch?

SM: Kanpur, in a sense, was saved by this win so not too many people will have the right to criticise this pitch. But I still think it is not a quality pitch. You want to see something more for the bowlers. Sri Lanka lost the game in the first innings and I have a feeling that the session that they had after India were bowled out on excess of 600 and then Dilshan got out; Tharanga Paranavitana and Sangakkara were playing for stumps and that approach was a little cautious and defensive and perhaps that affected their overall progress. They were defensive and as a result were not carrying forward the form and confidence they showed in the first Test. They were quickly resigned to the fact that this could be drawn Test and they were not playing the ball on merit. That attitude didn't help their cause and really,

Sreesanth made the difference. He got the ball to do something off the pitch which not too many bowlers have done and he managed that swing today as well. So he was a genuine seamer making the ball talk on a pitch that wasn't too helpful. So he was the one bowler who looked different. If Sri Lanka has a better outing in the first innings they would have continued to bat like that in the second innings and I still feel that this was a pitch that was more to a drawn game than a result match, but I am very happy there has been a result. Another drawn Test would have been tragic for this series.

AR: Sangakkara in the post-match presentation ceremony said that his team was mentally strong and they would come back in the next Test, but given the manner of the defeat in here, do you really think Sri Lanka can bounce back?

GB: If this defeat would have been in Sri Lanka I would have been more optimistic about their chances in the third Test. Sri Lanka is a different team, mentally, in Sri Lanka. This is a very demoralising defeat so to bounce back is not easy. The venue for the third Test is interesting; it is at the CCI and with a 9.15 am or 9.30 am start, there will be something in the pitch in Mumbai. I am hoping that the surface will be a little different from the one at Ahmedabad and Kanpur and seamers will have more of a say. If Sri Lanka can exploit any advantage that might be there, that might hep them to bounce back in the series. Otherwise, in typical flat conditions, it doesn't look too good for Sri Lanka. This is the strongest Sri Lankan team that has come to India, so if we can expect any sort of turnaround it will be from this team, but it looks very unlikely.

AR: Thanks Sanjay for your views.

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