India in Sri Lanka / News

Plays of the day

Role reversal, and a lamentable shot

Jamie Alter in Colombo

August 10, 2008

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Dammika Prasad goes on the attack during his 36 © Getty Images

Hot rod
Having had his first ball in Test cricket whipped away for four, Dammika Prasad decided to have a go at the first ball that he faced. Coming in at the fall of Kumar Sangakkara, Prasad - who started out as a No. 3 batsman - flashed his bat at a wide delivery from Anil Kumble and the ball flew through the gaping space at short third man for a boundary. Prasad broke into a big grin, and it stayed there pretty much all throughout his 36, which included four more feisty boundaries.

A treMendis shot
Ajantha Mendis has been bamboozling India all series with the ball. Not known for his batting abilities, Mendis joined Prasad when runs were a premium for Sri Lanka. Having just been ruled not out as he fended at a short ball from a pumped-up Zaheer Khan, Mendis took matters into his own hands. Next ball, he hurried out of his crease, made room, and drilled a length ball through cover. If that was fun to watch, Mendis' second boundary was as unorthodox as his bowling. Charging down to Zaheer again, he moved outside leg stump and swatted a short one straight back and nearly took out his batting partner. Forehands don't come flatter or harder than that.

I've got your number
Prasad's first ball in the second innings was also disdainfully pulled away for a boundary by Virender Sehwag, and he suffered a few more lusty blows in his first two overs. He then changed ends and ran in from over the wicket to Sehwag. A wide was followed by a scorching straight smash back past him and the stumps. Prasad then gave Sehwag room and he steered the ball straight to gully. He stood mid-pitch in goggle-eyed jubilation and held arms aloft for what seemed like an eternity. Prasad had dismissed Sehwag for the second time in the match, and while everyone charged towards the fielder, Thilan Samaraweera, he was hugged by his captain, Mahela Jayawardene.

Grace is gone
With 310 runs at 51.66, Gautam Gambhir has been India's most consistent batsman of the tour. His level-headedness, gracefulness against spin, and patience were vital in all three Tests, but his final shot of the series, shortly after he reached 1,000 Test runs, was lamentable beyond compare. India had just lost Virender Sehwag to a needless shot, with the run rate above six an over. Gambhir, possibly swayed by Sehwag's cavalier approach, tried to pull a short-of-a-length ball from Prasad but only succeeded in dragging it on to his stumps. That shot would have been just fine in an IPL match, but not in the final session of a day on which India's paramount objective was batting for time.

Marked for greatness
Sachin Tendulkar has looked the most comfortable Indian batsman against the wiles of Mendis. Today, Mendis put that to rest, and dismissed Tendulkar for 14 in the fading moments of another gripping day's cricket. Tendulkar failed to pick the googly while opting to pad it away. The review upheld the on-field umpire's verdict, and Mendis had gone past Alec Bedser's record of 24 wickets in a three-match debut series. The man continues to baffle.

Jamie Alter is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Jamie Alter Senior sub-editor While teachers in high school droned on about Fukuyama and communism, young Jamie's mind tended to wander to Old Trafford and the MCG. Subsequently, having spent six years in the States - studying Political Science, then working for an insurance company - and having failed miserably at winning any cricket converts, he moved back to India. No such problem in Bangalore, where he can endlessly pontificate on a chinaman who turned it around with a flipper, and why Ricky Ponting is such a good hooker. These days he divides his time between playing office cricket and constant replenishments at one of the city's many pubs.
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