November 22, 2009

Sri Lanka took their foot off the gas

There was a noticeable lack of intent from the visitors, especially on the third evening and fourth morning
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The first Test started with three good days of hard-fought cricket before sadly fizzling out. This was primarily because the pitch was so docile, but I also think Sri Lanka could have shown greater positive intent. They showed they could compete, took the fight to India and displayed a lot of character, but they will travel to Kanpur ruing a missed opportunity.

The lack of intent was most pronounced on the third evening and fourth morning. Sri Lanka were in the driving seat after Mahela Jayawardene's magnificent hundred, but hesitated at a time when they should have been turning the screws. By the end of day three they should have been 200 runs ahead, and on the fourth morning they could have pushed on faster.

It was not easy to score quickly once India decided to bowl negatively - Amit Mishra bowling around the wicket into the rough outside leg stump - but Sri Lanka could have picked up more runs. Mahela was understandably tired and needed to stay there to hold together the innings, but Prasanna Jayawardene could have taken some risks and been more positive. Instead, they went into their shells and lost momentum.

I thought both captains were a little too defensive and reactive through much of the Test match. Batsmen dictated terms and were allowed to pick up singles too easily. It felt like the fielding side were not sticking to specific plans and were being dictated to by the batsmen. Of course, on such a easy batting surface, that can often be the case.

Sri Lanka were better on the fifth day, though, bowling better lines and employing well-though-out fields. Angelo Mathews bowled a terrific spell in the morning, keeping a tight line on one side of the wicket, and Rangana Herath was encouraging the batsmen to drive, and therefore looking much more likely to take wickets, albeit at the cost of a few boundaries.

There was no doubt that Murali lacked his normal energy and had a poor game by his own exceptional standards. He looked like he was trying too hard, experimenting with lots of variations and therefore bowling an unusual number of loose deliveries. At his best, Murali is more patient, suffocating batsmen and using his variations sparingly. Knowing him, he won't look back very happily on his 63 overs in Ahmedabad, but Sri Lanka shouldn't be panicking that he had an average game. Sure, he looks a little low in confidence right now and he might be past his peak as a great bowler, but he remains Sri Lanka's main go-to bowler and still has a huge amount to offer.

The Kanpur Test-match pitch offered plenty of spin in last year's India v South Africa Test, so it might be the perfect chance for Murali to regain his best form after his recent injuries. He just needs a few things to go his way, a bit of good fortune, and he will be a big threat again. Sri Lanka certainly needs his vast experience in the next two games.

The big decision will be who should be Murali's spin partner in Kanpur. At the start of the first Test I agreed with the decision to go with Rangana Herath on the basis of form. But with the benefit of hindsight, I think Sri Lanka did miss Ajantha Mendis. History tells us that the most successful spinners in India have been the quickish ones - the likes of Anil Kumble, Derek Underwood and Richie Benaud. Mendis is similar in style and may be the better bet for the conditions.

Sri Lanka will also need to choose a replacement for Dammika Prasad. He bowled with a lot of heart and showed great attitude right through the match, even if he was a little inconsistent with his direction. Unfortunately, though, he has a grade-one hamstring tear - sustained while trying to stop a ball football-style in the deep, a dangerous technique used by a few of the Sri Lanka outfielders - which means he is very doubtful for Kanpur.

I think Sri Lanka did miss Ajantha Mendis. History tells us that the most successful spinners in India have been the quickish ones - the likes of Anil Kumble, Derek Underwood and Richie Benaud

My gut feeling is that the team management will opt for Dilhara Fernando, who was rushed to India this week as a replacement for Thilan Thushara, ahead of Nuwan Kulasekara. Nuwan bowled really well in Sri Lanka recently but on these Indian pitches I think Sanga will want the extra pace of Fernando, who I understand has been bowling with great rhythm recently. Angelo will have to perform the Kulasekara role as a steady stock bowler.

There were a couple of key moments in the game that Sri Lanka might look back with regret at now. Their bowlers lost focus after the fall of early wickets. The pace bowlers bowled a really good length early on to make inroads, but then bowled a little too full as they went for the kill, allowing Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh to consolidate.

In addition, Dilshan and Sanga will have been very disappointed to have thrown their wickets away like they did. In the end, they were lucky that Mahela and Thilan Samaraweera were able to keep them on track.

Finally, after Prasanna's long innings he was clearly drained, and perhaps with hindsight Sanga should have taken the gloves for the start of the innings. He may have grabbed the early chance off Sehwag.

Sri Lanka will be delighted with the batting of Prasanna. He looked slightly nervous at the start of his innings but Mahela calmed him down and helped him along. Prasanna sometimes needs a person like Mahela at the other end because while he is a good bat he does have a tendency to panic, which is betrayed by the fact that he tries to hit loose balls too hard. However, this century will give him confidence.

On balance, neither team will carry forward a psychological advantage. The positive for Sri Lanka is that they know they can compete and do have a chance of winning their first series in India. However, they have to start from scratch, having missed a chance in Ahmedabad. Getting their minds right and energy levels up will not be easy. It will be a real test for Sanga's motivational skills.

Russel Arnold played 44 Tests and 180 ODIs for Sri Lanka between 1997 and 2007

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alexk400 on November 24, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    If i am dhoni , i will go with sreesanth , sharma , zaheer and bhajji and drop misra and go on attack.

    if i am sangakarra , i will go with three spinners and weledegara and mathews or dilhara if srilanaka think they can bat with 5. you need to pick two out of those 3.

    Srilanka chances are if they take out sehwag early , it will drop confidence of following indian batsman. Sehwag fast 40 will jumpstart indian inning. sehwag 100 score will put india above 500.

    I am sehwag fan so i can't tell you on that. Hahaha.

    Srilanka can beat india , sangakkara has to get Mahela advice everytime. Kinda proxy captaincy until he got all knacks about captaincy.

    With 3 spinners and getting sehwag early can put srilanka on top. If sehwag scores big india will win.

  • H-Selwan on November 23, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    the only way sri lanka are going to win is by picking 5 specialist bowlers ,there is no way that murali will be dropped even though hes in worst form of hes life to bring mendis,, so mathews will have to be dropped and mendis will fill in that spot , dlhara will take dammika prasads place ,, that is also a gamble but sri lanka need to take 20 wickets to win so they need 5 specialist and not 4 and a half in mathews , , , angelo mathews failed to score on that pitch and looks very anxious and nervous when he bats , hes still very young and is better suited for the shorter format for the moment, sri lanka need to bowl first and get them out for less than 450 runs,, then bat as long as possible for abt 2 days, with a lead of about 200 ,,and then 0n 3rd day if the pitch will take turn the spinners will play big part , i hope they will take 5 specialist bowlers and not 4 and a half,, that is the only way sri lanka will win a test match overseas barring bangla and zim were murali

  • LalTM on November 23, 2009, 12:34 GMT

    Russel , you have been very honest with what you have to say and at last I am delighted to listen to a sensible commentator from Sri Lanka. I have to say that Sangakkara has still not shown his captaincy skills. I do not know whether he will ever be a good captain. It was true that the track at Ahemedabad was flat and lifeless but that is not the only reason why Sri Lanka could not win the match. I think Sanga should take major part of the blame for his ultra defensive approach. His bowling changes were hard to understand. I felt that he did change bowlers without any strategy or a plan but expecting things to happen in his favour. I hope Sanga will learn from his mistakes and put up a better show at Kanpur.

  • beindian on November 23, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    the dead pitch really kills the test match and match viewers...

  • shameerpvt on November 23, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    I am wondering what is happening to the all rounders of the Lankan team. Thilan came as bowler to the team, Paravithana can bowl & should give more overs to Dilshan who have showed partnership breaking skills through out his career. Why Sangakkara is ignoring these. For me Thilan should be used as a full-time bowler for test matches & open a another opportunity for a specialist to come in to the team & when you see the records of Thilan, anyone would agree to me on that. Also would clearly say that, English knowledge of Sri lankans are far better & no one should call them weak. If you compare between average Sri Lankans & average Indians, you could easily understand the English of Sri Lankans as the accent is more open & not ultra-unique.

  • Philip_Gnana on November 23, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    It is shame that we do not have Spin Bowling all rounders anymore. Sanath was a class act. Dilshan cannot fall in to that group. Looks like we have two fast bowling allrounders in Angelo Mathews & Maharoof. Playing three spinners may not be a bad idea. They we will need to drop a fast bowler or PJ with Sanga taking on the gloves. Ajantha Mendis has to partner Murali. Mendis has this bunny effect on Rahul & Yuvraj. Malinga is ofcourse still not fit to play the extended form of the game. It is right that the selectors have not gambled on him. The last tour to India had two walking wounded in Murali & Sanath - this was a tragedy and made a mockery of selection process. India will have to look at their bowling department. Should the SL batsmen not take the bouncers and ignore them without being drawn in then it is going to be a serious situation for India. India have got good spinning options in Sewag/Satchin and Yuvraj - batting all rounders. SL dont have this spinning options.

  • crickstats on November 23, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    I think it was Dhoni who switched to negative mode too soon, He gave ample singles to to Mahela, I think knowing how Mahela normally bats, he will take them , I think by giving Mahela a lot of time in the middle, it will work against India in the series, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the most and bat India out of the series, then Dhoni will rue this Ahamedabad test decision. Sri Lanka's most reliable test batters are Mahela , Samaraweera and Sangakkara. The problem for India is only one has fired. Watch out INDIA!!!

  • chandau on November 23, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Russ ur good, do try to relax it will start flowing. try to say less always helps on TV :) Our problem is with Sanga. He talks too much and puts pressure on the team. When it comes to walk the talk he fails. Explain to me this: Dilly was playing a blinder at 85%, Sanga was batting at 35%. The slow rate affected Dilly and he got out. Is this the same guy ranked #1 or 2 in batters list? Then we batted too slow. shud have scored at 4 per over easily. but the worst case was when we had 2 deep fielders on either side in the short session after lunch. We SHUD have had 5 round the bat for 15 overs! It was pathetic field setting. one would have thought india were chasing 325 to win, so appalling the fields set. Oh i miss marvan. If we continue in this vein there will be more misery and defeats. I think sanga is like Liverpool coach benitez. too stubborn to learn from mistakes and too vengeful to use all the players available. look what has happened to liverFooL. I fear same for us. Chandana

  • unspiritual on November 23, 2009, 9:07 GMT

    Jeremy Coney is from New Zealand. Epic fail ashabir.

  • ashabir on November 23, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Arnold is a recent addition to the commentators' ranks, and has aquitted himself quite creditably. Considering he has left the ranks of SL players only recently, he may be guilty, slightly mind you, of being biased towards them, and this will, I'm sure, get less and less as times pass. BUT, there is one wretched Aussie commentator, jeremy coney i think is his name, who made some comments about India being "bad sports" when they did not accept Sangakara's offer of quitting when the mandatory overs started with no hope of a result. Is this coney's way of telling tv watchers that Sachin should not go for his 43rd. century when within strikingdistance, so that ponting can catch up sooner??

  • Alexk400 on November 24, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    If i am dhoni , i will go with sreesanth , sharma , zaheer and bhajji and drop misra and go on attack.

    if i am sangakarra , i will go with three spinners and weledegara and mathews or dilhara if srilanaka think they can bat with 5. you need to pick two out of those 3.

    Srilanka chances are if they take out sehwag early , it will drop confidence of following indian batsman. Sehwag fast 40 will jumpstart indian inning. sehwag 100 score will put india above 500.

    I am sehwag fan so i can't tell you on that. Hahaha.

    Srilanka can beat india , sangakkara has to get Mahela advice everytime. Kinda proxy captaincy until he got all knacks about captaincy.

    With 3 spinners and getting sehwag early can put srilanka on top. If sehwag scores big india will win.

  • H-Selwan on November 23, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    the only way sri lanka are going to win is by picking 5 specialist bowlers ,there is no way that murali will be dropped even though hes in worst form of hes life to bring mendis,, so mathews will have to be dropped and mendis will fill in that spot , dlhara will take dammika prasads place ,, that is also a gamble but sri lanka need to take 20 wickets to win so they need 5 specialist and not 4 and a half in mathews , , , angelo mathews failed to score on that pitch and looks very anxious and nervous when he bats , hes still very young and is better suited for the shorter format for the moment, sri lanka need to bowl first and get them out for less than 450 runs,, then bat as long as possible for abt 2 days, with a lead of about 200 ,,and then 0n 3rd day if the pitch will take turn the spinners will play big part , i hope they will take 5 specialist bowlers and not 4 and a half,, that is the only way sri lanka will win a test match overseas barring bangla and zim were murali

  • LalTM on November 23, 2009, 12:34 GMT

    Russel , you have been very honest with what you have to say and at last I am delighted to listen to a sensible commentator from Sri Lanka. I have to say that Sangakkara has still not shown his captaincy skills. I do not know whether he will ever be a good captain. It was true that the track at Ahemedabad was flat and lifeless but that is not the only reason why Sri Lanka could not win the match. I think Sanga should take major part of the blame for his ultra defensive approach. His bowling changes were hard to understand. I felt that he did change bowlers without any strategy or a plan but expecting things to happen in his favour. I hope Sanga will learn from his mistakes and put up a better show at Kanpur.

  • beindian on November 23, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    the dead pitch really kills the test match and match viewers...

  • shameerpvt on November 23, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    I am wondering what is happening to the all rounders of the Lankan team. Thilan came as bowler to the team, Paravithana can bowl & should give more overs to Dilshan who have showed partnership breaking skills through out his career. Why Sangakkara is ignoring these. For me Thilan should be used as a full-time bowler for test matches & open a another opportunity for a specialist to come in to the team & when you see the records of Thilan, anyone would agree to me on that. Also would clearly say that, English knowledge of Sri lankans are far better & no one should call them weak. If you compare between average Sri Lankans & average Indians, you could easily understand the English of Sri Lankans as the accent is more open & not ultra-unique.

  • Philip_Gnana on November 23, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    It is shame that we do not have Spin Bowling all rounders anymore. Sanath was a class act. Dilshan cannot fall in to that group. Looks like we have two fast bowling allrounders in Angelo Mathews & Maharoof. Playing three spinners may not be a bad idea. They we will need to drop a fast bowler or PJ with Sanga taking on the gloves. Ajantha Mendis has to partner Murali. Mendis has this bunny effect on Rahul & Yuvraj. Malinga is ofcourse still not fit to play the extended form of the game. It is right that the selectors have not gambled on him. The last tour to India had two walking wounded in Murali & Sanath - this was a tragedy and made a mockery of selection process. India will have to look at their bowling department. Should the SL batsmen not take the bouncers and ignore them without being drawn in then it is going to be a serious situation for India. India have got good spinning options in Sewag/Satchin and Yuvraj - batting all rounders. SL dont have this spinning options.

  • crickstats on November 23, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    I think it was Dhoni who switched to negative mode too soon, He gave ample singles to to Mahela, I think knowing how Mahela normally bats, he will take them , I think by giving Mahela a lot of time in the middle, it will work against India in the series, I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the most and bat India out of the series, then Dhoni will rue this Ahamedabad test decision. Sri Lanka's most reliable test batters are Mahela , Samaraweera and Sangakkara. The problem for India is only one has fired. Watch out INDIA!!!

  • chandau on November 23, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Russ ur good, do try to relax it will start flowing. try to say less always helps on TV :) Our problem is with Sanga. He talks too much and puts pressure on the team. When it comes to walk the talk he fails. Explain to me this: Dilly was playing a blinder at 85%, Sanga was batting at 35%. The slow rate affected Dilly and he got out. Is this the same guy ranked #1 or 2 in batters list? Then we batted too slow. shud have scored at 4 per over easily. but the worst case was when we had 2 deep fielders on either side in the short session after lunch. We SHUD have had 5 round the bat for 15 overs! It was pathetic field setting. one would have thought india were chasing 325 to win, so appalling the fields set. Oh i miss marvan. If we continue in this vein there will be more misery and defeats. I think sanga is like Liverpool coach benitez. too stubborn to learn from mistakes and too vengeful to use all the players available. look what has happened to liverFooL. I fear same for us. Chandana

  • unspiritual on November 23, 2009, 9:07 GMT

    Jeremy Coney is from New Zealand. Epic fail ashabir.

  • ashabir on November 23, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Arnold is a recent addition to the commentators' ranks, and has aquitted himself quite creditably. Considering he has left the ranks of SL players only recently, he may be guilty, slightly mind you, of being biased towards them, and this will, I'm sure, get less and less as times pass. BUT, there is one wretched Aussie commentator, jeremy coney i think is his name, who made some comments about India being "bad sports" when they did not accept Sangakara's offer of quitting when the mandatory overs started with no hope of a result. Is this coney's way of telling tv watchers that Sachin should not go for his 43rd. century when within strikingdistance, so that ponting can catch up sooner??

  • RezaThahir on November 23, 2009, 7:32 GMT

    Sangakkara was defensive for the whole test match, after tea on the 3rd day they should have accelerated the scoring & shud have declared before tea reagrdless of how the wicket wud play on the fifth day. Sangakkara saved the day for the indians by declaring very late. Herath is the Ideal partner for murali & mendis is having a nightmare since his knee trouble. well the wicket is a real flat one & you dont expect a 300+ partnership for the 6th wicket in a good wicket & person like prasanna to score 150 againt a very good bowling attack like india. definitely this is a dead wicket after the lunch of the first day. hope the kanpur wicket is a 50/50 one & i want paranawithana to be replaced by Kandamby for the 2nd test & he should open. Paranavithana were given enough chance & he's averaging just 26 in 8 test matches. Definitely he'l be dropped for the 2nd test as he's isnt performing even at home he played 5 test matches. i'm not a big fan of Dilhara due to his inconsistency.

  • piyushh on November 23, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    Well, the pitch was dead no doubt about it. it could be better to support bowlers !! And also poor decision by sangakara to give toomuch lead, he could give lead around 200 runs and let bowlers try to get some wickets on 4th day morning !!

  • avis_2010 on November 23, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    I think India wil be better off with a pitch which supports fast bowlers (i.e. not shaving off the grass that is there in the kanpur pitch right now)... And they can include Munaf instead of Yuvraj for the Kanpur test... It may sound little weird but they need to be positive and aggressive if they want to win the test match.. Lankans are short on the fast bowling options... and thats the best chance for india to move ahead in the series..

  • Mcroos on November 23, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    Yes absolutly agreed with RUSSEL both captain's were in too much defensive mood.They just need to lern from Ponting how to handle situ like this 9 what aggrasive captain he was ) I still feel this match man of the match must go for welagedara why i am telling this was there are 7 centuries in a single test. Only welagedara shows some bowling skills on a batting paradise.Hope srilanka will just replace Prasad with Dilhara. just want to say dhammika prasad bowled well due to injury only he will replaced. will India will come up with 4 bowlers again???????

  • Aboofiras_al on November 23, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    I think, it ll be a tough decision to choose murali"s spin partner in kanpur test.Mendis is good choice to the nature of kanpur pitch.Herath also bowled well in last test.so Murali, Mendis, Herath,Walegedera, Mathews shold play.

  • Indika_777 on November 23, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    The bottom line is most Indian fans just can't let anyone praise anyone other than there so called Indian Greats (Tendulkar and Co.) It seems the Indian ego is way too fragile. Just a few weeks ago the whole Crcinfo site was a Shrine dedicated to Tendulkar just because he scored a century on a loosing effort! lol (Yet again I might add) lol

  • Indika_777 on November 23, 2009, 6:36 GMT

    I absolutely agree with Alexk400 on Malinga. I mean where is he? Why doesn't any journalist focus on this? He is clearly a wicket taking bowler much needed for Srl in Tests! I would also like to ask Cric info why they censored my rebuttal against "Mr.Rahul_78" about his criticism about Arnold being bias and about how Indian's speak better English than SriLankans! "Also your command on the english is much better compared to your colleagues from lanka" It seems Cricinfo allows Mr.Rahul to disrespect and bash Lankans on their English but when we challenge them back Cricinfo censors it! Way to go with the BIAS! There was no need to insult Srilankans on their English skills. There are plenty of Lankans including Sanga ; Madugalle and Arnold who speak excellent English. And it was also really amusing to see you comment about Lanakan commentator bias when all over the world it is Indian commentators and Journalist who are known for their extreme BIAS!

  • Cannuck on November 23, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Great start Russel, really enjoyed your commentary. Hopefully this will put an end to the "ONE" with the verbal diahrea from SL. It's refreshing to see a SL giving an opinion as a colour commentator, instead of repeating what goes on the field, a.k.a. Ranjit Fernando. Hopefully Russell can tone it down a bit in both voice control, & the obvious enthusiasm for SL. I think some here made great comments about their more experienced Indian commentators also being biased towards IND. I agree! As for this write up being about SL perspective, if you check the other 3 articled on this page as of now, 2 are on the Indian team. So what's wrong with this one being about the SL team? As for the game, SL did well not to bat again on a dead pitch, but IND did well to restrict SL's scoring rate, by negative bowling (If you can call that). Kudos to them for their tactics to save the match. Test matches often ends up drawn, but the blame for this result should go to the curator, BCCI or both!

  • Umesh.Indith on November 23, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    First of all this is a good article from Russel - thanks and hope to continue to read your posts in future. About the team composition: I would really like to play Thilan (if fit) + Dilhara and Welagedara or Angelo for the pace bowling. I have no idea on Dilhara's form but he certainly is a bowler who can serve a lot to SL cricket. A confident Dilhara Fernando is a great bowling option for any skipper - he can bounce off batsmen with new ball and can reverse with the older ball with pace. And for spin, I think Mendis should pair with Murali. But most of all, SL needs to put more energy - show/ work like taking a wicket in each ball they bowl. Fielders, captain should create that urgency. I had big hopes about Sanga as an attacking skipper, but so far he has failed to live up to that expectations. Hope SL achieve their first ever Series Victory in India in this tour!

  • Kart_in_Quartz on November 23, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    An amazing piece of coverage and observation from Russel Arnold. Right from the basis and reasoning of needing to play Mendis and Fernando into the eleven, to Sanga keeping wickets as a stop-gap, was terrific. Care to look at the analysis and the intellect behind it. This could go a long way into grooming a positive think tank to SL cricket. Excellent stuff, mate.

  • phoenix_29 on November 23, 2009, 5:39 GMT

    all said & done...ahmedabad is history,Kanpur is the present.....I think..srilanka did quite well in the 1st test....srilankas strength has been spin so why not play mendis,murali,herath,welegedera,matthews....

  • Indika_777 on November 23, 2009, 5:30 GMT

    Mr.Rahul_78 it is really amusing to see an Indian complain about bias! The reason why Arnold's article deals with Srl is not because of any bias but because he was addressing that particular issue: analysis of srl team and its performances. Just like other people right certain articles analyzing a certain player or team. So saying it is biased because he talks about the srl team is a joke.

  • Alexk400 on November 23, 2009, 5:14 GMT

    Where is laslith malinga. Even with his worst form he is better bowler than Dilhara any day. Prasad was like siddle. Just coming at indian batsman. He put hard work.

    Dilhara is well built and had very very weak mind. He will start to throw no balls once get hit. if he bowl like prasad he can be good on his day.

    Srilanka need Malinga to clean up indian tail. "Accurate" Speed kills.

    3 spinner is best choice for srilanka and drop mathews if srilanka ever want to win in India. Go on the attack.

    If you wait for india to lose , not happening especially in india. Crowd energy behind india. To beat in india , you need to apply pressure constantly and you need one bowler who should be economical and murali can go on the attack. Herath is better smart bowler. So best is 3 spinners and hope samaraweera play like dravid held one end.

  • Arshh on November 23, 2009, 4:54 GMT

    I dnt agree with playing mendis he is no longer a tread to indian batting and herath is bowling superbly so why do u drop him . i think two two attack is the good one on those pitches and we have mathews is a who can bowl that tight line when needed so it should be two two but why the hell is malinga is not picked 4 test what we need is a genune fast bowler who can bowl arround that 150 mark it's too risk to go with fernando if he is up to it he can be a match winner but if not he is nightmare .

  • muizuzair on November 23, 2009, 4:37 GMT

    I think what probably went wrong was the intention of the skipper and his men not to bat a second time on the final day. Any skipper in Sagakara's boots would have done the same because batting on the final day in a sub continent wicket won't be easy against quality spinners like Murali or Harbajan but unfortunately the 5th day was a batting Paradise and a bowlers Hell. Sangakara must have realized that on the morning of day 4 that Harabajan an Amit who are good spinners were not assisted by the pitch. Sangakara at that stage must have realized of chasing a formidable total on day 5 but it was perhaps too late to make the plan effective. Atleast he spared our players from chasing too much leather and also saved the moral of the spinners for the next game. In my opinion well done Sangakara.

  • Rahul_78 on November 23, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    @Mahiru, Yes I agree that gavaskar tends to be biased towards indians specialy against aussies he crosses the line. But thats not the point. I was just comenting on what I thought about russels commentry. I guess user feedback will definately help him in his future as commentator. He is notch above others from lanka when it comes to commentry. Regarding harsha with all due respect I disagree with you sir. Harsha's oratory command is unbelivable. Sanga is good but as harsha cant compete with him on field he cant with harsha in oratory skills.

  • mysay on November 23, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Philip_Gnana, I do not agree with you completely. Sadly we have to admit the fact that Mendis is ineffective against India. Further you need a player even as a bowler who can hold up a batting end for at least 20 to 30 mins, Prasad did it very well, but Mendis cannot. Further as a fielder Mendis is rubbish. Rangana proved his worth, he bowled better than Murali, and that would be the best combination (Rangana / Murali) going in to the second test. Three spinners do not make any sense, when Dilly can bowl a few. However one bowler who I really miss is Maha, where on earth is he??? He may not be super pace, but his chest height deliveries are lethal. Pace attack should be Welagedara/Prasad & Dilhara, I just hope he has done something about his no balls. But the best pace option would have to be Maharoof, Lasith & Prasad.

  • Mahiru on November 23, 2009, 3:37 GMT

    Mr. Rahul_78, i agree with some of your statements but do you think its logical to complain russel for being bias when we always hear indian extremists like gavaskar and harsha bogle??? aren't they being bias?? and i challenge you, none of the indians(including commentators) can speak english better than sangakkara...dont you think so?? give a logical reply if you are capable of it..

  • AHappyMind on November 23, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    I always thought Arnold has potential to become the best Sri Lankan commentator ever and now I find that he can write very well too. Good Stuff, Rus

  • Alexk400 on November 22, 2009, 20:14 GMT

    Sangakara captaincy was the problem. He was not using bowlers is the problem. Mathews is useless in Indian pitches in test matches. Stump to stump bowling is good only if you apply presseure with field setting. If you leak runs what is the use of vanilla stump to stump bowling. Mathews is waste in indian condition. Srilanka should use 3 spinners or bring kandamby and score 600 runs faster. if pitch is lively , murali will slowly and steadily get wickets. Apply pressure and do not let indian batsman get singles. Find weakness on each indian batsman.

    Bowl INCUTTER on off stump to VVS laxman , he will miss one , it will be over. Sachin bowl outside the off , let him fetch it. But you have to be fast in 150kph. Or he can get LBW if you can bowl incutter. All depends on discipline of bowler and field setting. Yuvi keep chaing bowling speed , yuvi will miss one. Dravid can get out outside off if you bowl faster.

    Dhoni is very good wicket keep catch material if you bowl outside off.

  • Philip_Gnana on November 22, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    Could have done with more balance here. Rahul played a magnificent innings holding together the indian team. I personally believe that we missed a trick in not playing Ajantha Medis. I could not accept his exclusion when I saw the team sheet. Lets not forget that Rahul managed to put on two super partnerships that saved india. Super sportsmenship to see warm greetings and recognition by the players when centuries and double hundreds were reached . Prasanna Jayawardena, what on earth was he doing grinding out there.. he should have been scoring around 65.00 RR. I do agree that we should have upped the scoring rate. India did well to get on with the game in the second innings. They did not let their nerves get to them. Those who write of Murali do at their own peril. Sure the past years have not been condusive to his form. The Tsunami has taken away his total passion from cricket to more humane issues - Great Human Being. Continue your good work Russel. Philip Gnana, New Malden Surrey

  • H.RUSHDY on November 22, 2009, 19:18 GMT

    Good one mate, keep it up.

  • apyboutit on November 22, 2009, 18:51 GMT

    Too much is being made about SL playing better, and all that. It was just the first morning (un)lucky burst of four wickets that damaged India and made the game for SL. But for that, it would have been a 1 innings each draw. THere was genuine juice for the bowlers in the wicket for only 1/2-1 hour on all mornings. India happened to bat during 3 of those mornings, including the first one, and with pressure on them on the other two of them. That's it. If it had been the other way, the story would have been reversed. SL also had the luxury of learning to play it off safely in the mornings, from the Indian Innings. This pitch played like a typical Premadasa Pitch. I don't think the multiple centurions will hold water in Kanpur. Sanga will be the only danger there. But credits to Jayawardene for scooping up from yet another run-filled track.

  • Sageleaf on November 22, 2009, 17:48 GMT

    Gosh guys it was a batting wicket nothing else. All we needed was a true fast bowler just to make India keep wondering. Unfortunately, the bowler could do some kind of damage is sitting at home here in Sri Lanka for unknown reasons. Few overs from Lasith Malinga on the final day could have turned the match in our favour. I thought Dammika Prasad and Chanaka Welagedara bowled very well.

  • cricktah on November 22, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    When an ex-player writes an article, he tends to write it from the point of view of his country/team but also presents the viewpoints of the opposing party. Arnold's article, for some reason, focusses COMPLETELY on the SL point of view. This may be the case because his reader base is predominantly Sri-Lankan at this time. As he writes more frequently, and develops a broader reader-base, he will no doubt present the perspectives of both teams involved. I look forward to continuing to read his articles.

    Gavaskar, Shastri, Manjrekar, Harsha have been in cricket journalism far longer than Arnold and have a broader fan base and therefore their articles are presented from broader perspectives. To say that their writing is inferior to Arnoldl's smacks of parochialism!

  • Ellis on November 22, 2009, 12:24 GMT

    Arnold has made a good start as a TV commentator because he reads the game well and provides good forward looking analysis. However, as a TV commentator he is a little too verbose and the cadences of his voice are out of sync with the prevailing situation of the game. Nonetheless, a good start. The pitch this Test was played on took us back to the late forties and fifties in India when batsmen ground out their runs, and bowlers sweated, prayed, and cursed.Test Cricket is an entrancing game when both bowlers and batsmen have an equal chance. This Test was not an example of that. It was good to see the game being played in the right spirit-hard but fair. Sri Lanka are in with a chance of taking the series but I think the Indian batting line-up will be the victors in the end.

  • CKfrombrisbane on November 22, 2009, 9:02 GMT

    This is called a commentary. Good luck for Russell ! Unfortunately, most of the Indian editors in crickinfo are just backing their Indian side rather than seeing the truth. We need real commentators like these who can see the game very well. Good job mate!

  • vjkins on November 22, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    Commentators from the touring country provide perspectives and share information related to the touring players and hence talking more about them does not mean that the commentary is biased.

  • thissa on November 22, 2009, 8:12 GMT

    Dear Russel, Superb article. Keep it up. Regarding Rahul_78 comments,I do not know how far he is reasonable of talking about the commentry of Russel's.But I did notice that, being a legend, How Gawaskar was biased towards India in his commentry.

  • uglyhunK on November 22, 2009, 7:58 GMT

    Enough about pitch. May be we have to ask how many times can a team faced with a situation of batting out 150 overs on the last 2 days can survice?? It is not just about pitch, it is about whole lot of other things as well. Application, mental pressure and making sure not playing a false stroke. How many of these people criticizing after the end of the final day, confidently predicted that India will see through ?? Bastmen deserve little credit....period

  • sureshksubra on November 22, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    To me, Srilanka tried everything possible to win the match. Having a lead of ~330 runs and giving the bowlers atleast four sessions to bowl out the opponent is what a team can do. This is a test match and I do not agree with Russell that Srilanka could have scored faster. It is obvious for any team to get a big lead and I dont think Prasanna Jayawardana could have done better than this. It's easy to blame the team but I guess this article is lacking some practical aspects of a test match.

  • Sanki88 on November 22, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    A reply to RAHUL_78's comment

    It's very harsh to accuse Arnold for being biased (I personally dont think so) given that he's so new to the scene, he will pick things up along the way and I'm happy to see someone with that much international experience get into the commentating scene. I have seen much more experienced Indian and Aussie commentators over-praise their players over the years.

    Must also say that some Cricinfo articles were very disapointing as well. So many paragraphs were written about Indian batting- including player history (with dates and location), over and over again, but I was disapointed to see the lack of information about Sri Lankan batsmen who made a great effort, playing on unfamilier surfaces and dominating the runs column.

    Being a neutral cricket fan, I feel for the Sri Lankan cricket supporters. Good content by Russel, very unbiased and no hesitation to point out mistakes, good on you!

  • ushanirosh on November 22, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    Hey, Russel man you doing a great job for Sri Lanka as a former cricketer. Sri Lankan former skipper Mahela did the great job against India. Do you know not even Mahela, Prasanna, Murali, and the other LIONS a great. The LIONS have to taking care of the other games too.

  • PremasiriS on November 22, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Herath is Sangakkara's & selector's choice, There are far better left-armers in S Prassanna & S Weerakone. Sachthra Sennayake too has been over looked to provide places for aging favorites.they also don't like the popularity gain by Ajantha & Malinga within a very short period of time. Ajantha could be a deadly bowler, if is given a attacking field even in a 20/20 match.

  • Partha25 on November 22, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Hi its Partha from Bangladesh. I am a Srilankan fan. Following Srilankan cricket since 1995. However, coming back to test series in India. I agree with Arnold. I was a big fan of him in his playing time. One of the best finisher of the srilankan cricket. Specially in one day cricket. In my opinion, if srilanka want to take twenty indians wicket then they have to play all the three spiners. I dont agree playing fernando because he is a rythm bowler and if he is not in the rythm then he is very indiscipline. he has his no bowl problems all through his career. he can be very eratic in his line and length as well. So playing him is a gamble. More over, he cant bowl a long spell as well.On the other mendis is a very useful bowler with the variations he has and he has a good control in his line and length as well. and u cant discard murali and herath as well. Besides mathews should take more responsibility as well. So srilanka should go with two pacers and three spiners. Best combination

  • Rahul_78 on November 22, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    Dear Russel, First of all it is very refreshing to see a promising commentry debut from a lankan player in commentry box who was playing international cricket not too long ago. Also your command on the english is much better compared to your colleagues from lanka (with alll due respect) and you came up with some hard openions yourself during the commentry. But having said that the bias towards your own country was very much visible throughout the 5 days. The apparent glee in your comments when mahela was hiting poor mishra all over the park didnt sounded too pleasent cause commentators are supposed to be neutral in there comments. Also the palpable irritation when sachin and gambhir were denying lankans on the last day was very much visible. I even commented to cricinfo commentry team that russel is having fun at mishra and wait till indians come out to bat in second eanings. Anyways,,wish you all the best for future endeavours.

  • 9ST9 on November 22, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    Excellent article by Arnold, straightforward and up to the point and yes- it was a great opportunity missed by Sri Lanka. It however has set up a good series. Hope Sri Lanka don't do what they did in England 2002, where they dominated a drawn first test before crashing out in the second and third ( despite a brilliant ton by Arnold)

  • pradeep_dealwis on November 22, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    very insightful column Russel...good work... also Kaushal might make a god opener from what i hera...he could be in a pure batsman replacing Tharanga....

  • Nipun on November 22, 2009, 4:34 GMT

    I am delighted to see all my match notes matching with that of Russell.However,how do you include Mendis?Herath was comfortably the most threatening spinner from both sides,& to be honest,on current form,despite him being a legend,it's Murali who should make way for Mendis.If Mendis is to be included,then he may come in place of Prasad,with Mathews being the 2nd seamer.In India,as we've seen over the years,seamers are needed only during the first 30 minutes of the 1st session of the 1st day.Throughout the remaining duration of the match,they remain as people who make up a formal XI.

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  • Nipun on November 22, 2009, 4:34 GMT

    I am delighted to see all my match notes matching with that of Russell.However,how do you include Mendis?Herath was comfortably the most threatening spinner from both sides,& to be honest,on current form,despite him being a legend,it's Murali who should make way for Mendis.If Mendis is to be included,then he may come in place of Prasad,with Mathews being the 2nd seamer.In India,as we've seen over the years,seamers are needed only during the first 30 minutes of the 1st session of the 1st day.Throughout the remaining duration of the match,they remain as people who make up a formal XI.

  • pradeep_dealwis on November 22, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    very insightful column Russel...good work... also Kaushal might make a god opener from what i hera...he could be in a pure batsman replacing Tharanga....

  • 9ST9 on November 22, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    Excellent article by Arnold, straightforward and up to the point and yes- it was a great opportunity missed by Sri Lanka. It however has set up a good series. Hope Sri Lanka don't do what they did in England 2002, where they dominated a drawn first test before crashing out in the second and third ( despite a brilliant ton by Arnold)

  • Rahul_78 on November 22, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    Dear Russel, First of all it is very refreshing to see a promising commentry debut from a lankan player in commentry box who was playing international cricket not too long ago. Also your command on the english is much better compared to your colleagues from lanka (with alll due respect) and you came up with some hard openions yourself during the commentry. But having said that the bias towards your own country was very much visible throughout the 5 days. The apparent glee in your comments when mahela was hiting poor mishra all over the park didnt sounded too pleasent cause commentators are supposed to be neutral in there comments. Also the palpable irritation when sachin and gambhir were denying lankans on the last day was very much visible. I even commented to cricinfo commentry team that russel is having fun at mishra and wait till indians come out to bat in second eanings. Anyways,,wish you all the best for future endeavours.

  • Partha25 on November 22, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    Hi its Partha from Bangladesh. I am a Srilankan fan. Following Srilankan cricket since 1995. However, coming back to test series in India. I agree with Arnold. I was a big fan of him in his playing time. One of the best finisher of the srilankan cricket. Specially in one day cricket. In my opinion, if srilanka want to take twenty indians wicket then they have to play all the three spiners. I dont agree playing fernando because he is a rythm bowler and if he is not in the rythm then he is very indiscipline. he has his no bowl problems all through his career. he can be very eratic in his line and length as well. So playing him is a gamble. More over, he cant bowl a long spell as well.On the other mendis is a very useful bowler with the variations he has and he has a good control in his line and length as well. and u cant discard murali and herath as well. Besides mathews should take more responsibility as well. So srilanka should go with two pacers and three spiners. Best combination

  • PremasiriS on November 22, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    Herath is Sangakkara's & selector's choice, There are far better left-armers in S Prassanna & S Weerakone. Sachthra Sennayake too has been over looked to provide places for aging favorites.they also don't like the popularity gain by Ajantha & Malinga within a very short period of time. Ajantha could be a deadly bowler, if is given a attacking field even in a 20/20 match.

  • ushanirosh on November 22, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    Hey, Russel man you doing a great job for Sri Lanka as a former cricketer. Sri Lankan former skipper Mahela did the great job against India. Do you know not even Mahela, Prasanna, Murali, and the other LIONS a great. The LIONS have to taking care of the other games too.

  • Sanki88 on November 22, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    A reply to RAHUL_78's comment

    It's very harsh to accuse Arnold for being biased (I personally dont think so) given that he's so new to the scene, he will pick things up along the way and I'm happy to see someone with that much international experience get into the commentating scene. I have seen much more experienced Indian and Aussie commentators over-praise their players over the years.

    Must also say that some Cricinfo articles were very disapointing as well. So many paragraphs were written about Indian batting- including player history (with dates and location), over and over again, but I was disapointed to see the lack of information about Sri Lankan batsmen who made a great effort, playing on unfamilier surfaces and dominating the runs column.

    Being a neutral cricket fan, I feel for the Sri Lankan cricket supporters. Good content by Russel, very unbiased and no hesitation to point out mistakes, good on you!

  • sureshksubra on November 22, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    To me, Srilanka tried everything possible to win the match. Having a lead of ~330 runs and giving the bowlers atleast four sessions to bowl out the opponent is what a team can do. This is a test match and I do not agree with Russell that Srilanka could have scored faster. It is obvious for any team to get a big lead and I dont think Prasanna Jayawardana could have done better than this. It's easy to blame the team but I guess this article is lacking some practical aspects of a test match.

  • uglyhunK on November 22, 2009, 7:58 GMT

    Enough about pitch. May be we have to ask how many times can a team faced with a situation of batting out 150 overs on the last 2 days can survice?? It is not just about pitch, it is about whole lot of other things as well. Application, mental pressure and making sure not playing a false stroke. How many of these people criticizing after the end of the final day, confidently predicted that India will see through ?? Bastmen deserve little credit....period