November 29, 2009

Murali and Mendis need to attack

The defining aspect of Sri Lanka's performance in the series has been the defensive mindset of their lead spinners, both of whom seem to have a confidence problem
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From Sri Lanka's perspective, the second Test could hardly have been more disappointing. They travelled to India with a great deal of expectation and hope, with a team of undoubted quality. In Kanpur, though, they were comprehensively outplayed. It was their poorest Test performance for a long time.

Losing is one thing, but the manner in which the team wilted was alarming. The lack of fight was deeply worrying. After failing to force a win in Ahmedabad in the first Test, it was crucial to get the energy levels high and hit India hard, but when things did not go Sri Lanka's way on the first morning, they went flat fast.

The toss was undoubtedly important. The players all knew that day one was going to be the best day for batting before it started to turn. The loss of the toss was made worse by a spilled catch off Sehwag in the first over and then a very good lbw shout that was turned down. The team's disappointment was understandable, but their reaction was not: heads went down and the negative body language betrayed the evaporating self-belief.

Full credit to India's batsmen; I thought they were superb. They carried the attack to the Sri Lankan spinners, using their feet expertly and seizing on any scoring opportunity. They were aggressive and positive and the slow bowlers were put under a huge amount of pressure. The failure of the spinners to control the game pushed Sri Lanka out of their comfort zone.

After India had got off to a flying start, I was surprised Sri Lanka did not try to clamp down on the run rate with some old-fashioned boring cricket. India were allowed to score too quickly. With more restrictive tactics and field placements, especially against new batsmen, the run rate could have been kept down on the opening day, and that would at least have left Sri Lanka breathing. As it was, the runs were plundered so quickly that the Sri Lanka batting was placed under enormous pressure.

While there seems little doubt that Murali is past his peak, he is still the kingpin of Sri Lanka's attack. For me, the main issue is that he seems low on confidence. There are signs of self-doubt, and the end result is that he has lost a bit of zip. However, I still believe that if he is able to gather himself together mentally and trust and believe in himself, he will bounce back.

Ajantha Mendis was pretty flat and it is fair to say a lot more was expected from him. He needs to shift gears now because players are reading him. He was different and special at the beginning of his career, but batsmen are countering him now. He needs to rise to the challenge, keep his belief and be smarter. He needs more variations while still doing the basics well.

Credit to Rangana Herath. I thought he showed a lot of mental strength. The Indian batsmen understood the threat he posed and they went after him to try and prevent him settling. However, he kept tossing the ball up and sticking to his strengths. When the ball did start to grip on day two, as the pitch started wearing, batting became a different ball game against him.

The three-spinner strategy was not the success that Sri Lanka would have hoped for, but I don't believe it was the wrong tactic. If fewer runs had been conceded on the first day, and if Sri Lanka had pushed India into a second innings then they could really have had an impact.

The main issue for me has been that the spinners, particularly Murali and Ajantha, are not playing with the same confidence that we are used to seeing from them. They are both on the back foot and thinking defensively at a time when Sri Lanka needs them to have a spring in their step. They both need to trust their talent and go out there with a far more positive mindset.

The management are left with a difficult decision as they select the attack for the Mumbai Test. With Dammika Prasad fit again, they might be inclined to revert to two spinners, and that means making a choice between Murali and Ajantha. Murali is obviously the favourite but the final call has to be made after assessing his state of mind.

Like Sachin Tendulkar frustrated the Sri Lankans on the final day in Ahmedabad, visibly upsetting some of them, Sri Lanka might at least have frustrated India in Kanpur, and thereby clawed back some of the momentum in a mental battle they started losing in the first Test

The batting was also a disappointment for Sri Lanka, although the top order was always under pressure after India was allowed to amass such a mountainous score. In such circumstances you need to just bat without worrying about the scoreboard or time. That, of course, is easier said than done, and in this game the top order did not handle the situation well. Mistakes were made under stress and some of the main batsmen were made to look very ordinary.

In the second innings Sri Lanka should have put up a stronger fight. While batting was harder than on the first day, there were no great terrors in the track even on the fourth day, and I thought India could have been made to work far harder for their victory. Like Sachin Tendulkar frustrated the Sri Lankans on the final day in Ahmedabad, visibly upsetting some of them, Sri Lanka might at least have frustrated India and thereby clawed back some of the momentum in a mental battle they started losing when they failed to trample on India on the evening of the third day and on the fourth morning in the first Test.

The management will also now need to assess whether a change needs to be made to the opening combination. Tharanga Paranavitana has now played nine Test matches but needs to begin making the big hundreds he scores in domestic cricket. In all of his last four innings he has been dismissed between 20 and 38, failing to capitalise on good starts.

Thilina Kandamby is an excellent player, but I think he is better suited to the middle order, where his strength against the spinners will be very useful. Kamdamby could be included by pushing Prasanna Jayawardene up to the opener's slot, but that is a tough ask, considering Prasanna has his wicketkeeping duties as well, so I would seriously consider a debut for Kaushal Silva, who although a wicketkeeper is also a top-class bat.

Whatever the selection, the key to levelling the series in Mumbai will be the way the team reacts to this defeat. A first series win is now impossible, but Sri Lanka cannot let that deflate them. The ability to bounce back in such circumstances is a hallmark of great teams, and squaring the series would be a major achievement. Sri Lanka definitely has the potential, but they need to be far more combative and mentally strong. They need to play with pride, purpose and unshakeable self-belief.

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 December 2, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    ok so far everything clicking for srilanka with 117/1. Dilshan curbed his instincts and also i found sreesanth was all over everywhere. May be he is back to his old ways?.

    Anyway i think sngakkara is the key here. He should keep rotating the strike with dilshan striking the ball well.

    I think srilanka may bundle out anytime the way wicket is spinng. Bhajji is spinning a lot. So it will be tough for srilanka.

    Murali can do well in this spinning wicket. Srilanka can win if they post 500 runs. Do they have patience and play until end of day with 300/4 or something close to it?. Srilanka should reduce risky shots and give back what they got from india. Run singles as many possible. Hit the ball towards oldies sachin , vvs and bad fielders like sreesanth & co.

    Hit towards weak fielders and take a relax singles. it will wear out indian bowlers sooner or later irrespective of spin.

    lets wait and see.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on December 1, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Bingo Arnold. I agree completely with Arnold that SL's spinners are not attacking Indian batsmen enough. Also I feel most of the srilankan's are looking for excuses like toss, pitch & so & so factor.... Then it becomes extremely difficult to win if you are depeneding on all these factors. I think that's the reason SL has got pathetic record outside SL especially AUS & SA. Indian's were also same but in this decade, India has changed that stat. INDIA is the only team to compete in AUS both times (2004, 2008) & also in SA(2006) where series was decided infinal hour of the play. Critic may say INDIA didn't win series AUS(1-1 in 2004, 2-1 in 2008) & SA(2-1), but fact of the matter is that INDIA is the only team to compete AUS very hard in the last 10-12yrs. SA might have won series in AUS in 2008, but their record is pathetic in SA against AUS. They have lost all the 4 seires in SA to AUS. SL is good only competing against Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,WI.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on December 1, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    Bingo Arnold. I agree completely with Arnold that SL's spinners are not attacking Indian batsmen. Also I feel most of the srilankan's are looking for excuses like toss, pitch & so & so factor.... Then it becomes extremely difficult to win if you are depeneding on all these factors. I think that's the reason SL has got pathetic record outside SL especially AUS & SA. Indian's were also same but in this decade, India has changed that stat. INDIA is the only team to compete in AUS both times (2004, 2008) & also in SA(2006) where series was decided infinal hour of the play. Critic may say INDIA didn't win series AUS(1-1 in 2004, 2-1 in 2008) & SA(2-1), but fact of the matter is that INDIA is the only team to compete AUS very hard in the last 10-12yrs. SA might have won series in AUS in 2008, but their record is pathetic in SA against AUS. They have lost all the 4 seires in SA to AUS. SL is good only competing against Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,WI.

  • Philip_Gnana on December 1, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    Murali bashing seems to be on the agenda. He may have not delivered to his full potential, but the some key factors were against him. No doubt if conditions are ideal for spin - Murali is King. Wiining the toss in CERTAIN conditions is vital. Take Premadasa stadium for instant.. play a da-nighter and you know how importance it is to win the toss. You might as well decide on the toss of a coin. SL had a double whammy in the 2nd test. Having to bowl when the pitch was not condusive to bowling and bat when bowlers had more help. No excuse though for failing so miserably in the first innings. Indian have got an impressive record at home...and so have the SriLankans on home soil. We need to put things in perspective here. I have my doubts if Kulasekera will deliver. He has no pace. Dilhara is so unpredictable. Indians have no worries on this front neither with their openers. Mumbai...winning the toss hmmmm. Not sure here. you have the opening session to do the damange. Tough call here.

  • randikaayya on December 1, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    @ankurindia: You honestly make me laugh! your analogy can be summed up using portions of Gavaskar's insipid commentary, the blind-Indian-cricket-fan mentality not worthy of a rebuttal. Not degrading or offending the ordinary die-hard Indian fan, but only those who seem abundantly blessed with 'India Only' doctrine. Last time India toured SL Mark Nicholas said on air that the Sri Lankan fans come to the stadium to enjoy cricket and themselves with their ever-cheerful, music-laden, never-resentful moods. In reply Gavaskar dismissed it saying 'oh thats their island mentality' rather disdainfully. Sums up your argument here as well in my opinion!

  • Desisport on December 1, 2009, 0:15 GMT

    As always ppl take the scape goat and bash it to death. Its not like Indian spinners have turned good performances. Its just that Indians got better conditions and ran away with the game. Murali is still the best spin bowler in the world. There is only so much he can do..also have to consider that he is bowling to the best players of spin in benign conditions just as we get everywhere be it lanka/India/Pakistan. Mendis was new last time and everybody besides Sachin & Sehwag had no clue to read him. Once they read it from his fingers it is very difficult to think he can be be anything else but average in test cricket. I thought Herath bowled beautifully but Dravid /Laxman and played him perfectly too. Rather blaming Murali I would put it on the batting who couldn't do their job on a friendly surface. Kudos to Ojha too for keeping it tight and not giving anything away besides Sreesanth's exceptional performance.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    I may advice sangakara to drop murali for next test and go with herath and mendis. I am thinking that Indians are playing murali well. So it will tend to repeat. Mendis can still be good if srilanka can put up some runs. BAT BAT BAT for 3 days srilanka. No cheap wicket. Let indians earn it. Fight like no tomorrow in fielding. Do not go down tamely then the tag of srilanka is no good outside home will be there for ever

    Losing is fine but still you can earn the opposition respect by fighting tooth and nail.

    Srilanka should forget 2nd test and start afresh and plan everything again from scratch. I want to see extra step in Srilankan fielding. You always has to think one wicket away from collapse even indian batsman go berserk.

    Like the Ganga captained T&T in champions league. He was always keep changing and moving things and try to find everyway to cut down everything.

    I do think sanga can do it but i wonder he may be like Rahul dravid in captaincy. Lack of imagination!.

  • jamesie007 on November 30, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Srilankans need to grow up. As long as that chucker Murali plays, Srilanka will never ever be among champions. Come on..everybody knows any match against Srilanka is unfair coz of that chucker. Throw him out!

  • hollandindian on November 30, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    @ paramthegreat Mate look at what you are saying. It is just absolutly rubbish. First off all about Dilshan. First you say that he scores runs against a few countries. Im oke with that. But then you say that in a differnt form!!!! Reed again what you just said!! You are comparing T20 with TEST-CRICKET!!!! Then you suggest that there is no talent in SL who can take up captaincy!! A liitle bit strange in the context. Again you are talking against yourself! I would end with the fact that you ve got a lot of "if" and "if" and "if". These are not facts. If has not meaning in cricket!! Just look at there stats and that will say enough!! (I have nothing against SL but some people need to see the facts!! :D)

  • Philip_Gnana on November 30, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    Some excellent stuff here Russel. Murali never recovered from the aftermath of the Tsunami. His vision has changed. He mind is set on more human things. You see that he enjoys helping out the needy more than he enjoys his cricket. Enjoy - is the key factor. I wonder if the selectors will make the bold step in getting Kaushal in. It will be a great idea too. Prasanna has been good with the bat average wise as compared to some of the other batsmen. So he can be in the team on batting merit. Winning the toss. This is an area where MS Dhoni excels in. I think his correct call rate is around 80% or so. Sanga has been a disapointment this series. I think he needs to take responsibility for the current situation. Talk is good. Walking the talk is what counts. Mahela was a cool character as a captain. He had that "Arjuna" factor in him. Sanga seem not to know what to do. When things get tough the tough get going. Cannot be said about his captaincy here. Philip Gnana, New malden Surrey

  • Alexk400 on December 2, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    ok so far everything clicking for srilanka with 117/1. Dilshan curbed his instincts and also i found sreesanth was all over everywhere. May be he is back to his old ways?.

    Anyway i think sngakkara is the key here. He should keep rotating the strike with dilshan striking the ball well.

    I think srilanka may bundle out anytime the way wicket is spinng. Bhajji is spinning a lot. So it will be tough for srilanka.

    Murali can do well in this spinning wicket. Srilanka can win if they post 500 runs. Do they have patience and play until end of day with 300/4 or something close to it?. Srilanka should reduce risky shots and give back what they got from india. Run singles as many possible. Hit the ball towards oldies sachin , vvs and bad fielders like sreesanth & co.

    Hit towards weak fielders and take a relax singles. it will wear out indian bowlers sooner or later irrespective of spin.

    lets wait and see.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on December 1, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Bingo Arnold. I agree completely with Arnold that SL's spinners are not attacking Indian batsmen enough. Also I feel most of the srilankan's are looking for excuses like toss, pitch & so & so factor.... Then it becomes extremely difficult to win if you are depeneding on all these factors. I think that's the reason SL has got pathetic record outside SL especially AUS & SA. Indian's were also same but in this decade, India has changed that stat. INDIA is the only team to compete in AUS both times (2004, 2008) & also in SA(2006) where series was decided infinal hour of the play. Critic may say INDIA didn't win series AUS(1-1 in 2004, 2-1 in 2008) & SA(2-1), but fact of the matter is that INDIA is the only team to compete AUS very hard in the last 10-12yrs. SA might have won series in AUS in 2008, but their record is pathetic in SA against AUS. They have lost all the 4 seires in SA to AUS. SL is good only competing against Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,WI.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on December 1, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    Bingo Arnold. I agree completely with Arnold that SL's spinners are not attacking Indian batsmen. Also I feel most of the srilankan's are looking for excuses like toss, pitch & so & so factor.... Then it becomes extremely difficult to win if you are depeneding on all these factors. I think that's the reason SL has got pathetic record outside SL especially AUS & SA. Indian's were also same but in this decade, India has changed that stat. INDIA is the only team to compete in AUS both times (2004, 2008) & also in SA(2006) where series was decided infinal hour of the play. Critic may say INDIA didn't win series AUS(1-1 in 2004, 2-1 in 2008) & SA(2-1), but fact of the matter is that INDIA is the only team to compete AUS very hard in the last 10-12yrs. SA might have won series in AUS in 2008, but their record is pathetic in SA against AUS. They have lost all the 4 seires in SA to AUS. SL is good only competing against Bangladesh,Zimbabwe,WI.

  • Philip_Gnana on December 1, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    Murali bashing seems to be on the agenda. He may have not delivered to his full potential, but the some key factors were against him. No doubt if conditions are ideal for spin - Murali is King. Wiining the toss in CERTAIN conditions is vital. Take Premadasa stadium for instant.. play a da-nighter and you know how importance it is to win the toss. You might as well decide on the toss of a coin. SL had a double whammy in the 2nd test. Having to bowl when the pitch was not condusive to bowling and bat when bowlers had more help. No excuse though for failing so miserably in the first innings. Indian have got an impressive record at home...and so have the SriLankans on home soil. We need to put things in perspective here. I have my doubts if Kulasekera will deliver. He has no pace. Dilhara is so unpredictable. Indians have no worries on this front neither with their openers. Mumbai...winning the toss hmmmm. Not sure here. you have the opening session to do the damange. Tough call here.

  • randikaayya on December 1, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    @ankurindia: You honestly make me laugh! your analogy can be summed up using portions of Gavaskar's insipid commentary, the blind-Indian-cricket-fan mentality not worthy of a rebuttal. Not degrading or offending the ordinary die-hard Indian fan, but only those who seem abundantly blessed with 'India Only' doctrine. Last time India toured SL Mark Nicholas said on air that the Sri Lankan fans come to the stadium to enjoy cricket and themselves with their ever-cheerful, music-laden, never-resentful moods. In reply Gavaskar dismissed it saying 'oh thats their island mentality' rather disdainfully. Sums up your argument here as well in my opinion!

  • Desisport on December 1, 2009, 0:15 GMT

    As always ppl take the scape goat and bash it to death. Its not like Indian spinners have turned good performances. Its just that Indians got better conditions and ran away with the game. Murali is still the best spin bowler in the world. There is only so much he can do..also have to consider that he is bowling to the best players of spin in benign conditions just as we get everywhere be it lanka/India/Pakistan. Mendis was new last time and everybody besides Sachin & Sehwag had no clue to read him. Once they read it from his fingers it is very difficult to think he can be be anything else but average in test cricket. I thought Herath bowled beautifully but Dravid /Laxman and played him perfectly too. Rather blaming Murali I would put it on the batting who couldn't do their job on a friendly surface. Kudos to Ojha too for keeping it tight and not giving anything away besides Sreesanth's exceptional performance.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    I may advice sangakara to drop murali for next test and go with herath and mendis. I am thinking that Indians are playing murali well. So it will tend to repeat. Mendis can still be good if srilanka can put up some runs. BAT BAT BAT for 3 days srilanka. No cheap wicket. Let indians earn it. Fight like no tomorrow in fielding. Do not go down tamely then the tag of srilanka is no good outside home will be there for ever

    Losing is fine but still you can earn the opposition respect by fighting tooth and nail.

    Srilanka should forget 2nd test and start afresh and plan everything again from scratch. I want to see extra step in Srilankan fielding. You always has to think one wicket away from collapse even indian batsman go berserk.

    Like the Ganga captained T&T in champions league. He was always keep changing and moving things and try to find everyway to cut down everything.

    I do think sanga can do it but i wonder he may be like Rahul dravid in captaincy. Lack of imagination!.

  • jamesie007 on November 30, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Srilankans need to grow up. As long as that chucker Murali plays, Srilanka will never ever be among champions. Come on..everybody knows any match against Srilanka is unfair coz of that chucker. Throw him out!

  • hollandindian on November 30, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    @ paramthegreat Mate look at what you are saying. It is just absolutly rubbish. First off all about Dilshan. First you say that he scores runs against a few countries. Im oke with that. But then you say that in a differnt form!!!! Reed again what you just said!! You are comparing T20 with TEST-CRICKET!!!! Then you suggest that there is no talent in SL who can take up captaincy!! A liitle bit strange in the context. Again you are talking against yourself! I would end with the fact that you ve got a lot of "if" and "if" and "if". These are not facts. If has not meaning in cricket!! Just look at there stats and that will say enough!! (I have nothing against SL but some people need to see the facts!! :D)

  • Philip_Gnana on November 30, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    Some excellent stuff here Russel. Murali never recovered from the aftermath of the Tsunami. His vision has changed. He mind is set on more human things. You see that he enjoys helping out the needy more than he enjoys his cricket. Enjoy - is the key factor. I wonder if the selectors will make the bold step in getting Kaushal in. It will be a great idea too. Prasanna has been good with the bat average wise as compared to some of the other batsmen. So he can be in the team on batting merit. Winning the toss. This is an area where MS Dhoni excels in. I think his correct call rate is around 80% or so. Sanga has been a disapointment this series. I think he needs to take responsibility for the current situation. Talk is good. Walking the talk is what counts. Mahela was a cool character as a captain. He had that "Arjuna" factor in him. Sanga seem not to know what to do. When things get tough the tough get going. Cannot be said about his captaincy here. Philip Gnana, New malden Surrey

  • RoshanF on November 30, 2009, 10:06 GMT

    Cricket, surely, is the only sport where the toss of a coin can be absolutely crucial to an outcome. And with the sheer uncertainties which are in abundance in this wonderful game anyway, there must be a better solution to this 'all-too-important' toss. I wish there could be a system where it is pre-agreed that during a three test series the home side gets to decide who bats for the 1st test and then in the 2nd test the honours would be given to the visiting team to decide. And for the 3rd test, the decision may be given to the side who are in front in the series. In front means not necessarily by means of wins but in the event of a series hinging on the 3rd test the side with better runs per wicket gets to decide who bats first or something like that. Just to 'degrade' the importance of the toss.

  • mrgupta on November 30, 2009, 9:15 GMT

    Well like many SL supporters i may agree that things might have been diff if SL had won the Toss... "If"....thats retrospective. Do u guys mean to say that winning matches is all about winning the Toss? Then why play at all, decide on the toss.... Many have said that in the first match if SL had won the toss they wud have won..... India was 32/4 guys!! and then behind by 300+ runs... What else does a team need to win a Match? I am not saying that SL is a bad team.... but i think stats say that they have never ever won any test match in Aus, SA and India.... in last 5 years they have mostly won at home.... for record Jaya'wdne averages 38 outside Indian Subcontinent....I agree they have some class players and i am a fan of Murli and Sanga.... but still a team needs to prove its credentials.... Good Luck to both teams for the 3rd Test.....

  • USCRICKET on November 30, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    why blame the toss?? go out and give your 110% then we can win matches any where in the world. I agree with alexk400, Murali is great but when the time comes one needs to step down, otherwise we will have a Team full of Senior Citizens.

  • USCRICKET on November 30, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    well Sri lanka has lots of young talent, if the regular players are not performing and step up to the plate kick them out, and give some place for young blood!!

  • ankurindia on November 30, 2009, 8:27 GMT

    well i d agree with satya

    well sri lankan players let it be any player.....barring sangakkara n attapatu r useless in overseas......

    jayawardene n dilshan n samarweera r verry bad batsman overseas n that is why lanka is such a poor test team with woefull record overseas....

    recently vs zimbabwe even their all batsman failed...all batsman failed

    sri lanka is below avg compared to india who has won every where n has chieved huge resepc from every one

  • CricFan78 on November 30, 2009, 7:44 GMT

    To be honest I am disappointed with Sanga's captaincy. He has been too defensive. If SL wants to win in India they need to catch Indians by scruff of the neck by continuously attacking Indian batsmen and tight bowling.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 7:37 GMT

    For me i do not think Murali is out of form at all. It is just that Indians play against murali well in indian conditions. Every time Srilanka comes here with murali , BCCI makes flat wicket. So it is not at all murali's fault. It is just that srilanka need few fast bowlers and not depend on murali 100%. Sangakkara has to gamble again. Either go with kandamby and make big score and do not give away wicket. Bat bat.. then apply pressure. It is tough to leave a spinner. Herath is unafraid to toss up. If wicket assists all spinners can do damage. Mendis is ok if he is not bowling to sehwag. Bring 3 fast bowlers and 2 spinners , roll the dice. Srilanka may lose but atleast i want srilanka go down fighting. I understand srilanak can't control sehwga , but letting dravid , sachin , laxman taking singles is unacceptable. Srilankan team is not mentally ready for india. Crowd energy sucks energy out of them. I think.

  • paramthegreat on November 30, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    @satya: mate , all u say regarding SL players is total gibberish. Dilshan is easily the best SL player on form . He has scored in India, in SL, against NZ in SL, even against SA and Eng and Aus in T20( altho it is very much different in comparison to tests). Regarding Jayawardena , surely , he is the best test batsman of SL as you saw in the 1st test match. Yes, Sangakkara is out of form since a very long time and he should be stripped of is captaincy. but there is not any single other player available to take up the role of captaincy. Secondly, if SL won the tosses in the 1st 2 matches , I assure u that the result would have been very different, mainly a SL win with SL going up 1-0. Even in the ODI series' in SL, had SL wn the toss more frequently vs India, they would have won the series. btw, I am an Indian and i just cannot tolerate such biased opinion coming from anther fellow indian. Nothing personal, mate.

  • truthspeaker on November 30, 2009, 6:50 GMT

    Cricket today is more or less played in a similar fashion worldwide - home side advantage plays a big role Australia remains unbeaten in Tests at home and so is India - SA has lost to Australia at home and likewise England has lost to India at home

    so, there is not much to distinguish teams in the top five - though, I'd rate Australia at the top, India second and SA/England joint third in Tests - ODI is alternately dominated by India and Australia

  • pradeep_dealwis on November 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    i agree with RoshanF....and muiziair ...India are better than SL man to man..easily in the batting and with an out of from murali, equal in the bowling...but the TEAMS were more than equal ( cuz cricket is a TEAM game)..it was wining the toss and horrible test pitches that sealed the deal....if the toss was the other way round SL could easily hav won, tho definitely not by such a large margin... so how to save test cricket..have proper test wickets!..this series should hav been much more interesting.!

  • pinn on November 30, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    First test was mentally won by India , if you ask me ! 32/4 on the opening day and 300+ lead after the first innings , nobody will think they can draw the test ! But Indians just realized the nature of the pitch and didn't even think about the first innings , hence the draw ! ( note : 32/4 is just becasue with the help of the pitch and of course with few classy balls from Sri lankans ! )

    In the second test , Sri lankans didn't even match to Indians at any moment of the game.

    I dont think current Srilankan team is such strong team to give any threat to the world's leading team ! ( On the other hand , India had proven itself multiple times by winning tests abroad in the recent past )

    I still love Murali and Mahela a lot for their class ! Enjoy watching Indian batsman and bowlers fighting against these 2 legends !

    But sorry to say , still Srilanka doesn't have the venom to take a lead , unless Indians play some worst game !

  • Mcroos on November 30, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    Yes Russel was correct loosing is ok when you are visiting team but the way of loosing is importent. What i can say is lack of captaincy from Sanga. Sorry sanga I have to comment that. I can see a huge defernt from Kumar b4 captancy and now. Kumar need to more settle as a capatin. feilding placement was horrible no attack at all for the indians. Hope they will include Dilhara and Kulasekara for the 3rd test and play with 2 spinners herth and murali.just keep out mendis and angelo.so 5 bowlers and 6 batsmans. why Srilankan's need 5 Bowlers? Becasue there are platying againt the best batting side currently in the world on there home soil.

  • muizuzair on November 30, 2009, 4:16 GMT

    I do agree with Shen Mark. The toss was vital to win and in both matches SL lost the toss. Interesting to note that if we look back to recent India SL matches including the 5 one day series played in SL we have lost the toss in too many occasions. As a result pitch conditions favored India mostly.

  • RoshanF on November 30, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    Three spinners up against the best players of spin , and on their home turf to boot - SHEER LUNACY. As someone has said India have always handled Murali quite easily. Warne (easily the cleverer of the two) was even worse. The land which launched spinners like the Windies once brought pacies ought to handle spinners better. As for Matthews as many have known (but not the selectors) he is not a true all rounder, at least not yet. And at that pace on the slow tracks he has to bowl like Kapil Dev - and he isn't anywhere near. His batting is more suited the limited overs variety. He has a long way to go. And more than anything SL needs a performing captain and NOT a talking one. He has quite simply faded after a good start. His field placements for Murali, beginning from the Twenty 20 WC, beggers belief And NO, SL cannot match India man for man. Finally what happened to the simple logic that home advantage helps, er, the home side. India are better in India. SL beat India in SL.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2009, 3:39 GMT

    For me India and Srilanka is same if you remove sehwag. Until sangakkara realize it soon , he will be better off. Srilanka chances are bright if they can get sehwag early. Even if they do not they can control other batsman. Sehwag normally throw away his wicket when he kept quiet. Use boredom as a weapon against sehwag. I can only give only one tip. Ha.

    Anyone can improve, sangakkara with all his brain can improve. These are srilanka weak spots. 1. Opening Batsman. 2. Middle order (mathews slot). 3. Need 3 fast bowlers .

    And i say Srilanka has to drop murali for next Test. Murali was never good against india as indians always play out murali and take less risks barring last test. It is not going to change. Srilanka shoul go with dilhara, kulasekara , mendis , herath , welegadara.

    Sangakara should role the dice. Let indians batsman go after srilankan spinners and lose wickets at regular intervals.

    Again all depends on how srilanka get sehwag out early. i predict india win again

  • Shen_Mark on November 30, 2009, 2:43 GMT

    Mr BabishMohan, SL would have most likely won the 2nd test if they've won the toss. Stop thinking about 10 years, watch out in the next game for a strong reply! The night doesn't end with one dream

  • apyboutit on November 30, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    A lot of comments are conceited. Here are the facts. SL do not match man-2-man with top teams in the world now. Their records are made predominantly in their own backyards. Mendis is jut 10 matches old - most of his good wickts were when he was fresh - no one knew what to expect. I doubt he will play more than 30 tests. Only Murali and Sanga are classy all around the world. Others are pretty ok. Dilshan is yet to perform consistently and Mahela's class and consistency is in between. I see arbitrary comparisons being made between the budding SL players & proven, classy champions around the world. A general attitde of superiority prevails among the SLan supporters and even the commentators and players. This is misplaced, untested and not helping them win against most best teams. Pakistan is the only top team that consistenty loose to them. May be they choke ... But that is not sufficient to evaluate SL. Once they shed their air and attitude I think this SL team can perform fantastic.

  • mk49_van on November 30, 2009, 2:38 GMT

    Murali is aging. He has done his work for SL, and he never did terribly well against India, in India anyway. Mendis is really a one-trick pony, he gives every time a hard time the first few times. Then all theams figure him out and the slaughter begins. I predict that Mendis will stop playing for Lanka in the near future; the Lankans will realize that he is really not worth it.

    If these two start 'attacking' - then we may see even more hundreds in Mumbai. I think SL are really missing Thushara and Malinga. Some quality pace would help.

  • ChandraPrince on November 30, 2009, 1:45 GMT

    Oh, my gosh ─most writers to this blog seem, including Mr. Ganguly on another page seems to have already forgotten that India had to fight hard for a draw against Sri Lanka during the first test. Remember? So please don't over blow India's success in the second test. Kumar Sangakkara is very fine captain. Sri Lanka posted the highest batting total that any team had posted ever in India during the first test massive 760/7. That was under the captaincy of Kumar Sangakkara. As far as Sreesnath is concerned his bowling average was very mediocre in the second inning. He got thrashed hard by Samaraweera─ on one occasion more than 3 boundries in one over…May be Sreesnath will go back to being himself once again, he has a uneven bowling performance, that's what he's known for. He took 75/5 in the first innings but was able to only 1 wicket for 47 runs! Who knows? Let's not get carried away or judge so rashly─ let's see what happens in the third test!

  • hollandindian on November 29, 2009, 21:15 GMT

    @salmanSL

    Im sorry but i have to attack your opinion. First of all you say that SL bowlers are better than Indian bowlers. In this series we have seen that this is not the case. To win a test match you hav to take 20 wickets. Sl bowlers were not able to do that. This point of yours is just out of discussion. And you are saying that India is just an average team withouth their stars. Im sorry but if India, the no2 in the world is average, SL should be worse. First of all There is Dilshan who just can score against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and on flat pithces. He is just not more than very average player. Lets not start about that guy Para. Oke I have to say that Mahela and Sanga are good batsmen but very out-of-form off late. Samaraweera can also score only on flat pitches in Pakistan and against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. And further?? There is no talent in SL as they can not match India because SL are scared playing AUS, SA and ENG in their conditions.

  • Jharsha09 on November 29, 2009, 19:49 GMT

    Where is Malinga??? We need you !!

  • GJK008 on November 29, 2009, 18:08 GMT

    Russell, you have caught the Srilankan team mindset in a very perfect manner. Excellent article coming from cricinfo/you. Absolutely straightforward.

    I think the srilankans had to play a spinning allrounder in kanpur instead of 3 spinners. That would have served the dual purpose of having a batsman as well as a bowler.

    Anyways goodluck for the 3rd test. Hopefully Murali plays in that and comes up good. He is too good a bowler to keep lying low.

    Also its time for sangakkarra to standup to his team mates and lead by example.Last but not least their fielding was way below standard, they have to tighten their belts and get upto their usual standards.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 18:03 GMT

    Someone say Srilanka beat Pakistan and Pakistan play well with india even terms , so srilanka is better..blah blah. It won't work that way. It is tough to beat any team when you have no motivation or friendly with a team. That is what happens when pak plays srilanka. On the other hand when pak plays india , every pak player know all 150 million pakistanis watching the game..it become do or die situation. It is a pride for pakistani to play well against india to beat them.

    Srilanka is too friendly and can't bring out the hunger and motivation against india when they play india. True test for srilanka is when they play australia and beat them in australia. Srilanka can't beat aussies without 3 ultra fast (145+) bowlers.

    Srilanka should not follow india and should be model for india by finding these fast bowlers. That would be shock for indians with 1 billion people can't do but tiny srilanka can find super fast bowlers.

    Only samaraweera is impressive.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    The main difference between two side is captaincy. Dhoni out think sangakarra every time. It is on field placing where sangakkara lacks attacking/killer instinct in that he need to choke batsman by placing fields and do not allow them to get singles , so srilankan spinners can bowl atleast 4 balls at same batsman. Srilankan spinners are better than indian spinners. Srilanka fields better than india for sure . It all depends of field placing and run to the ball and not slack.

    Other factors are sehwag as main threat for srilanka if they keep spilling the chances he gives. Sreesanth can be countered easily. Dilshan should not throw his wicket to sreesanth and nullify sreesanth outswing and step out and attack like hayden do. Key is getting 20 wickets. To do that sangakkara has to captain well. So far he is not that impressive like mahela. Mahela was thinking captain , same level as dhoni. he reads the situation well. Sangakara panics. he talks big but not make decision quick.

  • Brian07 on November 29, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    Well said Mr Arnold, The whole team including the management should be blamed for the defeat. As Sri Lankan die hard cricket fan its so disappointed in watching a game lost in this poor manner.

    Team selection was wrong. Playing 3 specialist spinners and playing Mathew. .

    Prasanna Jayawardene dropping catches was shame for his standard and the run out of our no 1 batsman Mahela J was very costly.

    Changes have to be made ASAP. Should conseder Nuwan Kulasekera , Thilana who has done so well with the bat and Kaushal Silva, for wicket keeping. Tharanga Paranavitana should be given one more chance

    SL need to bounce back and ita all with selection.

  • justjonty on November 29, 2009, 17:04 GMT

    Mendis requires some quickness in the wicket. Mendis is not the sort, to throw the ball up, and entice the batsmen. Rather, he beats the batsmen with cut, both ways. After the initial uncertainty, the Indians are playing from the hand and as such would be picking him well. However, they would still be in strife, if mendis could beat them for pace off the wicket. At the moment that isnt happening. If the wicket at brabourne has pace, India, watch out!!

  • BabishMohan on November 29, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Srilanka can forget about a test win on Indian soil and with Muralis retirement due there is no such chance for next 10 years.Ahmedabad was a flat track and Mahela is a flat wicket emperor.Just watch the Indian middle order they have scored in different conditions and the outcome of those is the joint No 1 test nation status. SL is never going to win a test in SA and AUS because of flat track bullies not scoring there and Murali not taking wickets.

  • vswami on November 29, 2009, 15:43 GMT

    Quite simply, Indian batsmen played the SL spinners a lot better than SL batsmen played Indian spinners. Mendis had one great series against India at home, but has been hammered in tests and ODis by India ever since. He has no mystery anymore and doesnt spin the ball either. He doesnt have the guile of Kumble to be consistently effective. India has played Murali so much over the years that there is not much he can do to surprise them. Herath looks the best prospect so far, but as a one man bowling maching its too much to ask for him to do it all alone. Matthews is not a test opening bowler and that leaves a rather weak bowling attack. The best hope to Lankans is for Indians to commit hara kiri.

  • chandau on November 29, 2009, 14:32 GMT

    Said it before and say it again. the problem is with Sanga who talks too much but does little on th efield, thereby putting a lot of pressure on the team. eg. Murali. ook at the fields set for him. there are about 4 on the fence and another 2 halfway, rarely does he bowl 3 balls to the same batter! He could have learned a few from MSD, 6 around the bat and another 2 close in on the 3rd day.We have problems from 01 to 11. Para while good has not gone beyond 40.. Dilly is all attack so its a toss up between a big score and zip. Sanga has lost it since of late. Mahela & Sam have to carry the team. Mathews does not justify 06 spot while PJ has improved batting but seems to be a little lazy behind. Is he tiring after batting for long? May be he shud come in at 06. Then begins tail that can neither hammer nor block other than Murali. He is better off scoring a few but cant be a 08 for sure. So we have a problem which 4 / 5 bowlers to play. Why was Mahroof and Bandara cut off? Its a pity

  • Jharsha09 on November 29, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Thanks, Russel, for your insightful comments and strong message to the Sri Lankan Board. Obviously, in order to win, Sri Lanka has to bowl India twice. That means taking twenty Indian wickets. This feat can be achieved but the bowlers have to have a sense of urgency right from the beginning. I agree that the spinners need to have more of a 'killer attack' -- the one Murali possessed during all these years. In my opinion, Sri Lanka should go with just two spinners -- Murali and Herath. There was mention of Dilhara coming back. I think he is a dangerous bowler, and perhaps, should be considered over Prasad? Where batsmen are concerned, as you say, Kandamby has to be considered, especially since he has proven himself again India before. He will be a strong force in the middle order. Which batsman, then, should be dropped? Hmmm, that is a tough one.

  • apyboutit on November 29, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    Poor attitude. Too many blames. Too desperate to seal the fate on one or two dropped catches - that too in the 1st over of the 1st day!! Mahela, and a couple of others were gven so many reprives. But the Indan team continued to create more chances. Everyone in the SL team gave their hearts out. But I think the probelm was the SL team policy of "attack" at any situation. This is meaningless strategy in India. The Ozs used to do it and always found it difficult. They now play it slow when tey have to in India and find more success. After the first day, all players had to slow down. Only a few did it and were successful. Another point i find is that Sanga puts the whoe team in pressure when he talks. It cannot help them. Ajantha, is ok. but his freshness has been like that of packeted tobaccoo. It is fragrant as soon as you open. Once opened, there are no more surprises. The series is not over yet. SL can still do well & go back with more pride.

  • salmanSL on November 29, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    SL is undoubtably one of the best teams around today We can match any team in the world (including the indians) man for man.SL has no problem beating Pakistan even though they have much better bowlers than india and very good batsman. Pakistan have always given india a good run for their money so there is no reason why SL cannt. Our bowling and fielding is way better than India. Many SL bowlers are record breakers while Indian bowlers though good have never really made a name for themselves. They dnt posses the pace menace the Sri Lankan or Pakistani bowlers have while no indian spinner has been in the same class as Murali or Mendis. SL batsmen are very good but need to start backing each other up and play as a team. SL need to start believing in themselves. Stop reading all the hyper in the media about how good india is. Apart from a few ageing stars india is a pretty average team. While Sangakara is a very good captain he could learn a thing from Arjuna in motivational skills.

  • JGuru on November 29, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    I think it will virtually be no contest in Mumbai unless Srilanka wins the toss. They were not just outplayed in Kanpur but at the end of the match their self-belief gone to winds. Mumbai is spinner's paradise for years. Murali and Mendis look out of sorts and finding tough in not so unfamiliar conditions. It is a mystery that a genius like Murali was not able to put any of the Indian batsmen to test. I think the problem does not lie with technique but it was sheer defensive strategy that let them down. Sanga was defensive right from ball one. He had a deep point for Sehwag before he took the guard. Srilankan think tank should be more aggressive in their thinking to be able to square the series. Sanga should hope that the toss goes in his favor. Angelo Mathews should be dropped as his bowling has not proved effective. SL should go with 5 regular bowlers and depend on their top 6 to score runs. Because this strong Indian line up could be dismissed twice if SL is ultra aggressive.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 29, 2009, 8:30 GMT

    Why are the spinners getting all the blame? In that second test the spinners took all 9 Indian wickets (and Dravid was run-out by Herath). The key to bowling, as the Australians keep showing the world, is good bowling at both ends. Sreesanth bowled really well and deserved his 5-for in the Sri-Lankan first innings, but look also at the overs before he took these wickets. Ojha was doing a great job tying the other end down! Mumbai Test, play 4 or 5 spinners Sri Lanka. Spinners are the best, they win test matches, and on boring batsmen-friendly pitches they are usually the ones that can make things happen. Stick with the same batting line-up, but this time don't panic and don't get out to rash shots and/or stupid calls!

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    I want srilanka to fight not give up tame. To do that they must fight with batting. For that they have to play straight against sresanth to counter his new ball swing and leave balls. he will keep try to get swing by coming to off stump and middle stup to get close to the bat. you counter it by moving forward and turning the ball onside. it upset any bowlers. Hayden use to do if he see bowlers bowling well against him.

    They need to get rid off Paranavitana and mathews. It is tough for slow bowlers like mathews to excel in indian flat picthes. He is more suited run controlling bowling in ODIs than wicket taking bowling. He can be good if he increase his bowling speed or batting by showing he can score 200 runs in domestic. he needs to show tenacity and temparament before getting selected for Test.

    They also need Gambhir type batsman to complement dilshan. Dilshen need to wait for sreesanth to make mistake or he will get out to sreesanth again.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Continued...

    3. Srilanka opening is the main source of problem. Mathews is not good enough for test batting. You do not give your wicket away that cheap. It is not about slogging or sixers in TEST. it is about not giving wicket away , make opposition tire like aravinda de silva ( he never gets out against indians) used to do. Kandamby is in that mould what i have seen.

    4. Srilanka need two good fast bowlers. Kulasekara is too slow but better than mathews. You have to pitch at right length and right line in test to make batsman play. BCCI made flat pitches when ever india play against srilanka to counter murali. So murali can't spin then mendis will be useless. Herath is ok. He is more smarter than others. if you give enough runs , herath and murali can do damage if picth assist even little.

    5. Crowd energy is advantage for india, aussies beat india by planning for every indian batsman. Srilanka to win they have to get rid of sehwag early otherwise no chance in hell for srilanka.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:45 GMT

    Srilanka has to fight. To do that they need find players who is not just slogging more of dravid type temparament in that i am not going to give my wicket easily and you have to earn it.

    Issues with srilanka

    1. Handling Sreesanth. Counter sreesanth swing by moving from and clip him to onside. He will continue to experiment and throw loose balls. To upset sreesanth bowling you have to do nothing. Just keep hitting him on the onside. He bowls some perfect ball with new ball. So basically you have to move up and counter it and upset his rhythm.

    2. Do not give sehwag too many chances. He is a mad man. hahaha. if he plays well whole indian team gets charged up. if he falls , whole team loose energy. You have to pounce indians and do not give breathing space. cut off singles. I am sehwag fan so i can't give too much on that , just do not drop if he give you chances.

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    Very optimistic,but very unrealistic.Sri Lanka has a mountain of problems,beginning with a captain who talks a lot but scores too little,a non-scoring opener on easy pitches,a legendary off-spinner who somehow doesn't enjoy touring India & Australia,a spinner who is quite easy to play if considered to be a slow-medium bowler,& an all-rounder who has not contributed with either bat or ball.It has come to such a state that if Sri Lanka doesn't win the toss,their chances are gone.

  • 9ST9 on November 29, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Win the toss bat first, put up a good score and hope Mumbai turns as much as Kanpur. Clearly there is no room for winning by batting twice on these pitches. We saw what happened in Ahmedabad. So ideally SL should bat for a better part of the second day, then give the spinners enough time. Murali is clearly over-bowled now.Give him a break, Warne was out of the game for a while and that did him a world of good. I think Herath could be the key factor,but Mendis is the one with potential to pick up 2-3 key wickets. Ideally if he can snare 1-2 big ones, murali and herath can clean off the lower half. And Sri lanka simply MUST hold on to whatever chances shewag offers early on.

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  • 9ST9 on November 29, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Win the toss bat first, put up a good score and hope Mumbai turns as much as Kanpur. Clearly there is no room for winning by batting twice on these pitches. We saw what happened in Ahmedabad. So ideally SL should bat for a better part of the second day, then give the spinners enough time. Murali is clearly over-bowled now.Give him a break, Warne was out of the game for a while and that did him a world of good. I think Herath could be the key factor,but Mendis is the one with potential to pick up 2-3 key wickets. Ideally if he can snare 1-2 big ones, murali and herath can clean off the lower half. And Sri lanka simply MUST hold on to whatever chances shewag offers early on.

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    Very optimistic,but very unrealistic.Sri Lanka has a mountain of problems,beginning with a captain who talks a lot but scores too little,a non-scoring opener on easy pitches,a legendary off-spinner who somehow doesn't enjoy touring India & Australia,a spinner who is quite easy to play if considered to be a slow-medium bowler,& an all-rounder who has not contributed with either bat or ball.It has come to such a state that if Sri Lanka doesn't win the toss,their chances are gone.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:45 GMT

    Srilanka has to fight. To do that they need find players who is not just slogging more of dravid type temparament in that i am not going to give my wicket easily and you have to earn it.

    Issues with srilanka

    1. Handling Sreesanth. Counter sreesanth swing by moving from and clip him to onside. He will continue to experiment and throw loose balls. To upset sreesanth bowling you have to do nothing. Just keep hitting him on the onside. He bowls some perfect ball with new ball. So basically you have to move up and counter it and upset his rhythm.

    2. Do not give sehwag too many chances. He is a mad man. hahaha. if he plays well whole indian team gets charged up. if he falls , whole team loose energy. You have to pounce indians and do not give breathing space. cut off singles. I am sehwag fan so i can't give too much on that , just do not drop if he give you chances.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Continued...

    3. Srilanka opening is the main source of problem. Mathews is not good enough for test batting. You do not give your wicket away that cheap. It is not about slogging or sixers in TEST. it is about not giving wicket away , make opposition tire like aravinda de silva ( he never gets out against indians) used to do. Kandamby is in that mould what i have seen.

    4. Srilanka need two good fast bowlers. Kulasekara is too slow but better than mathews. You have to pitch at right length and right line in test to make batsman play. BCCI made flat pitches when ever india play against srilanka to counter murali. So murali can't spin then mendis will be useless. Herath is ok. He is more smarter than others. if you give enough runs , herath and murali can do damage if picth assist even little.

    5. Crowd energy is advantage for india, aussies beat india by planning for every indian batsman. Srilanka to win they have to get rid of sehwag early otherwise no chance in hell for srilanka.

  • Alexk400 on November 29, 2009, 5:57 GMT

    I want srilanka to fight not give up tame. To do that they must fight with batting. For that they have to play straight against sresanth to counter his new ball swing and leave balls. he will keep try to get swing by coming to off stump and middle stup to get close to the bat. you counter it by moving forward and turning the ball onside. it upset any bowlers. Hayden use to do if he see bowlers bowling well against him.

    They need to get rid off Paranavitana and mathews. It is tough for slow bowlers like mathews to excel in indian flat picthes. He is more suited run controlling bowling in ODIs than wicket taking bowling. He can be good if he increase his bowling speed or batting by showing he can score 200 runs in domestic. he needs to show tenacity and temparament before getting selected for Test.

    They also need Gambhir type batsman to complement dilshan. Dilshen need to wait for sreesanth to make mistake or he will get out to sreesanth again.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 29, 2009, 8:30 GMT

    Why are the spinners getting all the blame? In that second test the spinners took all 9 Indian wickets (and Dravid was run-out by Herath). The key to bowling, as the Australians keep showing the world, is good bowling at both ends. Sreesanth bowled really well and deserved his 5-for in the Sri-Lankan first innings, but look also at the overs before he took these wickets. Ojha was doing a great job tying the other end down! Mumbai Test, play 4 or 5 spinners Sri Lanka. Spinners are the best, they win test matches, and on boring batsmen-friendly pitches they are usually the ones that can make things happen. Stick with the same batting line-up, but this time don't panic and don't get out to rash shots and/or stupid calls!

  • JGuru on November 29, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    I think it will virtually be no contest in Mumbai unless Srilanka wins the toss. They were not just outplayed in Kanpur but at the end of the match their self-belief gone to winds. Mumbai is spinner's paradise for years. Murali and Mendis look out of sorts and finding tough in not so unfamiliar conditions. It is a mystery that a genius like Murali was not able to put any of the Indian batsmen to test. I think the problem does not lie with technique but it was sheer defensive strategy that let them down. Sanga was defensive right from ball one. He had a deep point for Sehwag before he took the guard. Srilankan think tank should be more aggressive in their thinking to be able to square the series. Sanga should hope that the toss goes in his favor. Angelo Mathews should be dropped as his bowling has not proved effective. SL should go with 5 regular bowlers and depend on their top 6 to score runs. Because this strong Indian line up could be dismissed twice if SL is ultra aggressive.

  • salmanSL on November 29, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    SL is undoubtably one of the best teams around today We can match any team in the world (including the indians) man for man.SL has no problem beating Pakistan even though they have much better bowlers than india and very good batsman. Pakistan have always given india a good run for their money so there is no reason why SL cannt. Our bowling and fielding is way better than India. Many SL bowlers are record breakers while Indian bowlers though good have never really made a name for themselves. They dnt posses the pace menace the Sri Lankan or Pakistani bowlers have while no indian spinner has been in the same class as Murali or Mendis. SL batsmen are very good but need to start backing each other up and play as a team. SL need to start believing in themselves. Stop reading all the hyper in the media about how good india is. Apart from a few ageing stars india is a pretty average team. While Sangakara is a very good captain he could learn a thing from Arjuna in motivational skills.

  • apyboutit on November 29, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    Poor attitude. Too many blames. Too desperate to seal the fate on one or two dropped catches - that too in the 1st over of the 1st day!! Mahela, and a couple of others were gven so many reprives. But the Indan team continued to create more chances. Everyone in the SL team gave their hearts out. But I think the probelm was the SL team policy of "attack" at any situation. This is meaningless strategy in India. The Ozs used to do it and always found it difficult. They now play it slow when tey have to in India and find more success. After the first day, all players had to slow down. Only a few did it and were successful. Another point i find is that Sanga puts the whoe team in pressure when he talks. It cannot help them. Ajantha, is ok. but his freshness has been like that of packeted tobaccoo. It is fragrant as soon as you open. Once opened, there are no more surprises. The series is not over yet. SL can still do well & go back with more pride.

  • Jharsha09 on November 29, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Thanks, Russel, for your insightful comments and strong message to the Sri Lankan Board. Obviously, in order to win, Sri Lanka has to bowl India twice. That means taking twenty Indian wickets. This feat can be achieved but the bowlers have to have a sense of urgency right from the beginning. I agree that the spinners need to have more of a 'killer attack' -- the one Murali possessed during all these years. In my opinion, Sri Lanka should go with just two spinners -- Murali and Herath. There was mention of Dilhara coming back. I think he is a dangerous bowler, and perhaps, should be considered over Prasad? Where batsmen are concerned, as you say, Kandamby has to be considered, especially since he has proven himself again India before. He will be a strong force in the middle order. Which batsman, then, should be dropped? Hmmm, that is a tough one.