November 21, 2009

Good on Dravid and Mahela, pity about the pitch

People come hoping to see a result, which is why flat pitches aren't doing Test cricket's cause any good

The first Test ended in a draw, though Sri Lanka dominated the match.

The flatness of the pitch completely neutralised the spinners' efforts in the game. Looking at the way Muralitharan bowled on day five and the amount of turn he got from the pitch, I would not be wrong in saying that one more Test match could probably be played on this wicket. I was a little surprised by the flatness of the pitch on day five. Normally on Indian wickets the red soil provides a lot more bounce and turn to spinners. In an era where there is demand for the shorter versions of the game, administrators will need to look at surfaces and make sure they produce results, because those are what people come to watch, and they are very important for the survival of Test cricket.

Sri Lanka had their chances in the Test, and they did wonderfully well to reduce India to 30-odd for 4 on the first morning; but they allowed them to get to 400. I think Sri Lanka will rue that when they sit down to analyse the Test match.

Breaking the partnership between Dhoni and Dravid at that stage would have put Sri Lanka in a good position. Having said that, all credit should be given to Dhoni and Dravid - not only because they scored runs but for the manner in which they batted under pressure. They looked very positive and that put a lot of pressure on the Sri Lankan bowling as the wicket had dried out by then.

Dravid will be very satisfied with his knock. He is playing top-level cricket after a long time. He has had to bear the brunt of being left out of the one-day side, and he was not in the best of form for about two years before the Test match in Mohali against England last year. But once again he proved that class is permanent, and he will be a relieved man. The selectors must be given credit for rightly showing faith in him. His record as a Test and one-day player is outstanding.

There was a time in Aravinda de Silva's career when he did not look like getting out against India. Mahela Jayawardene probably reminded the Indians of that in this game

Sri Lanka's most important player of the year, Tillakaratne Dilshan, batted beautifully once again. He is a completely changed player now. He always had the talent but what he has done very cleverly is find a way that suits him most in scoring runs, and he has stuck to it. He has started to play the Sehwag way, where offence is the best way of defence, and there will be days when he will be criticised for playing a poor shot at an important stage. I think this is the best of him that we are seeing.

Mahela Jayawardene has continued to enhance his reputation as a Test batsman. He has probably been Sri Lanka's best Test batsman, along with Aravinda de Silva, and he still has some years before he finishes. He looks a calm and composed man on and off the field. There was a time in de Silva's career when he did not look like getting out against India. Mahela probably reminded the Indians of that in this game. In the first half of his career there were questions asked about his performance outside Sri Lanka, but having scored centuries away from home against all countries (except South Africa), he has proved to be a world-class batsman.

Although Sri Lanka had a massive lead of 360 runs, it required a Murali special for them to beat India at home. But I must say Murali looked pretty flat, which is what prompts me to say that they could have had one more Test match on this pitch. It did not spin much, even on the fifth day, and the Indians had to bat very poorly to lose the match - which they did not.

The teams go to Kanpur from here. Hopefully it will be a responsive pitch. Sri Lanka will definitely consider playing Mendis, as the wicket in Kanpur keeps low and he could be useful in those conditions.

Sourav Ganguly led India in 49 Tests between 2000 and 2005, winning 21

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ramshankar on November 23, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    Hi dada, as one Mr. Pathiyal quoted, you have reminded me of my all-time favorite test batsmen, Aravinda de Silva alongside Sachin, Dravid, Steve Waugh, Lara, Ponting. Thanks a lot for that. He is one of those who not only against India, but against many other countries like Australia (their favorite Lankan batsman), was a prized wicket. His presence on the crease have always created problems for the opponents. A complete batsman in the late 80s and through the 90s, he has played many a gr8 contributions for Sri Lanka, not only at home but also away. (Though I cant forget the SIX you hit off him in the 1999 WC encounter. :) but i jus loved ur innings that day. You were such a treat to watch in ODIs than in Tests.)

    Nice to see you starting a column in CricInfo. Hope you write more based on your experience as a player and the most successful captain of the world's most loved nation. Hope to see more comments but we expect more assertive ones, not the bland and neutral ones like this

  • vikram on November 22, 2009, 18:47 GMT

    hi dada , i want more aggresive comment from u... pitch is really worst in india

  • D on November 22, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    Dada's remarks are sanitized deliberately so. As a recently retired player his comments have been offered as a polite tip of the hat to those still playing the game while exemplifying even-handedness to both teams. I imagine his comments will get more incisive as he gradually gets comfortable in his new role within cricket - amongst the arm-chair quarterbacks and journalists.

  • Hassie on November 22, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    its nice to see saurav here...

  • Vinod on November 22, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    Hi Saurav, you rightly said it. we wish to see more stuff from you. and thanks for remembering one of my most favorite batsmen of all time - Aravinda de Silva. he was in the same league as you were - in the league of match winners. he was 'unfairly ruthless' against India and when he retired i thought 'oh, the storm is over'. now i really miss the sight of those match winning innings. and the best part was that he made sure he was there till the last ball of the innings.

  • Mike on November 22, 2009, 2:52 GMT

    Wow how insightful.. I for one am really sick of hearing people talk about this instead of thinking logicallly about the problem.

    The problem with Test cricket is attendence to games and tv audience numbers like they used to be.

    problems here.

    1. Cricket in general is in the worst period of its life with regards to pitches. Thanks to the idea of 20/20. It started with one day cricket and its persuit of the 400 score. Make them flat and get lots of runs. people want lots of runs eg 6's 4's.

    People aren't monkeys. we enjoy the game for all its variety. I for one like the tough day where the bowlers are on top. Its supposed to be a battle against bat and ball. not just set the field out and see if it batsmen make a mistake typing of bowling.

    People want to see entertainment. Not the stupid idea of old fuddy duddy administrator who think they know best about the game.

    also i think the no ball line should be guarded by the 3rd ump so they can give more atention overal

  • Anuja on November 21, 2009, 22:29 GMT

    Great to see you on Cricinfo, Dada. And look forward to your articles. We love you.

  • sathish on November 21, 2009, 19:28 GMT

    Why are you paying Ganguly to write this? I could've told you all this for free.

  • Nishant on November 21, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    ah dada you are on cricinfo!! may you stay long and write much much more ...

  • Lingaraj on November 21, 2009, 16:55 GMT

    Dada nicely summerized ... we want insights please..... !

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