Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day July 20, 2010

Sri Lanka's bowlers liven up Test

The Sri Lankan bowling unit showed in one session that it is better equipped in these conditions than its opposition
23

Sri Lanka have done their best to keep this match, which has lost close to 114 overs of play in three days, alive. Even when India were threatening to come back to level terms in the first session, the hosts maintained a run-rate of four. Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga provided some unexpected entertainment with the bat and, more importantly, ruled out India's victory. Then they made an aggressive declaration, leaving Herath unbeaten 20 short of a maiden Test century. It was later that they did the most telling damage.

The Sri Lankan bowling unit showed in one session that it is better equipped in these conditions than its opposition. It was a gripping session of play post tea, also facilitated by a poor attempt at a second run by Rahul Dravid.

Lasith Malinga came roaring back into Test cricket, attacking the stumps, getting swing, bowling full, removing Gautam Gambhir with the second ball of the innings and obsessively chasing the toes and ribs of Virender Sehwag. Muttiah Muralitharan, who would have found it tough to not get emotional with the grand reception he got when he walked on to the field, put behind him the lean run of form and performed like a champion. If there was any fear that his farewell Test might be a distraction, it was squashed when he got Sachin Tendulkar's wicket.

The final 42 minutes of the day, after Dravid and Tendulkar were dismissed within 33 runs of each other, and India were still 320 short of saving the follow-on, brought drama with almost every delivery. Only 8.4 overs were bowled, but Malinga's long run-up was full of promise.

Virender Sehwag, already 67 off 73 including a majestic six off Murali, was made to dig out yorkers just to save his toes, forget his wicket. He was made to get the bat up in time to protect his ribs, but also keep the ball down, lest it flew to the accurately placed leg gully or short leg. Even when he managed to expertly bisect the keeper and the leg gully, he got just the single to the fine leg placed for the top edge. The one yorker Malinga missed, bowling a low full toss, Sehwag crashed it through the covers.

Against Murali he fared better, reading the variations well, despite claiming to the contrary in his column. He even cut from in front of the stumps. In perhaps the most watchful 42 minutes of his batting since Adelaide, Sehwag scored 18 runs off 25 balls, at a mere mortal's pace.

Murali troubled VVS Laxman much more, who didn't read the doosra at all. On one occasion Laxman left alone one that pitched within the stumps, expecting it to turn down leg, and then saw it bounce over his off and middle stump. Another doosra he played at, and was beaten by what was almost a legbreak. He was lucky it missed the off stump. Bowling with four men around the bat, he kept pitching it on around the same spot, turning it either way.

Just as the clock approached the scheduled close of play at 5.45 pm, the sun peeped out of the clouds and shone as brightly as it had through the last week to heighten the drama. The play went deep into the evening, Yuvraj Singh must have waited anxiously, the Sri Lankans tried their darnedest to pick one more wicket before stumps, but India just about hung on. The series was alive, there was tension around. It can do with more of it.

Rangana Herath later said Sri Lanka can force a result even if India avoid a follow-on. "They [Sehwag and Laxman] batted very well," he said. "But at the same time, the bowlers were bowling really well, so if either of them had had done one mistake, it would have cost them their wicket. We expect to do the same thing tomorrow." Amen to that.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rogue777 on July 21, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    chokkashokka are you for REAL! An Indian calling Sri Lankan pitches Dust Bowls and flat tracks. Just check the stats again for what countries has more drawn tests Sri Lanka or India? And as for Dust Bowls either you are a complete idiot who needs to learn what that word means or you really kidding yourself because Indians are the ones famous for dust bowls. The point of this series kiddo is to prove how much a sham and joke Indians number 1 rank in tests is. By the way as for stroke play I think Malinga and Herath outplayed the Indian batsmen in that department as well!

  • chokkashokka on July 21, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    blah ..blah...this test match is a boring draw...the only highlight of this game is the exciting stroke-play of the Indian batsman - they're going at almost 5 an over in the dust bowls that SL prepares for each test. What is the point of this test series exactly?

  • on July 21, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Overall a good match for TEST CRICKET :D!!

  • STres on July 21, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Here we go again, the #1 team hoping and praying for a draw, someone said fireworks from shewag - now this is a joke, my dear friend he is fighting for survival most of his scoring shots were life saving or toe saving attempts that went for 4, he will also score because SL is setting very attacking fields.

    Someone said that SL never won a test match in India - well yes the man of the match on many occasions are the Indian Umpires - recently with neutral umpires, the situ is better but the pressure and indian bribery gets to them too.

    Conditions in Galle better than South India, temperature better that most cities in India (people don't die here of heat stroke) my dear friends no excuses we are getting bloody tired of all this rubbish talk, you have your best 11 players available (out of 1,200 ml population) we have our best available player (out of 20 Ml population) let us now play cricket - you win, we say bloody good - we win, please say bloody good - no rubbish talk.

  • coolguy_sing on July 21, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    its a well known fact that India's bowling is weaker than bangladesh. But the surprise factor is that how at one of point so many bowlers were knocking the national team and now noone worthy is around. Also what happened to all the spinners in India. In the MRF bowling academy are they not teaching anyone how to spin the ball?? Am baffled with such inconsistencies. Probably some process needs to be in place to look into this point. Coming to this match, most likely it is going to be a draw unless India loses it by itself. But am sure Indian batting can save the fort for sure. Match is already dead with a days play washed out.

  • Vallam on July 21, 2010, 0:32 GMT

    So back to same old story. When Indian bowlers operate, it is flat pitch no help to seamers and spinners. But when the opposition bowls better, Oh the condition is totally changed and now every thing is in favor of bowlers.

    Next when Sachin Tendulkar fails, the whole Indian team fails. He is a master batsman and this time the bowler got one unplayful ball and surprised Sachin. Other batsmen should learn to take responsibilities. Has Sachin delivered when India wants? Same old stories. Have we not heard / read this million times.

    India is not worth its place in ranking; let us accept we have a better team compared to Bangladesh, Zimbavee, etc.

  • Mushtanda on July 20, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    indians are scoring at over 4.5 an over, which belies the assertion that SL bowling has been good. in fact, indian bowling's overall economy was a tad better than this.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 20, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    Can't see too far past a draw, pity that the rain was stole so much. Must say there is a little oomph more in the pitch than in most of the other subcontinental pitches of late. The little bounce makes a diff. Sehwag once again proving why HE (and not Ghambir) is the best batsman in the world at the moment. He really seems to be on a different level from his peers. Malinga looks pretty good and Murali is unlucky not to have VVS. Sharma bowled better for a spell but he needs to learn that one good spell per match is not up to standard and the fact that he fell away to the end + no support, saw Herath (who played beautifully) and Malnga cash in. Must say the Ind fielding was too poor...again and in such conditions, 1 needs to hold chances.

  • BihariKababsZindabad on July 20, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    Whatever the result may be, the #1 test team could not bowl out the Sri Lankan team AND were hit for 164 runs on the 7th and 8th wicket partnerships. Moreover, the top 5 have not even managed to score as much on the same pitch. For sure, it's pretty clear this time around India isn't playing Bangladesh, or on their home soil.

  • Prash42 on July 20, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    @ vibh_ch....why do you just blindly attack players without looking at stats to back you up? The last three years Harbhajan has the following stats: year 2008 13 matches 63 wickets year 2009 6 matches 29 wickets year 2010 4 matches 12 wickets

    I dont mind you having your opinion and not liking a player but please don't just come here and say he hasn't done anything......

  • Rogue777 on July 21, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    chokkashokka are you for REAL! An Indian calling Sri Lankan pitches Dust Bowls and flat tracks. Just check the stats again for what countries has more drawn tests Sri Lanka or India? And as for Dust Bowls either you are a complete idiot who needs to learn what that word means or you really kidding yourself because Indians are the ones famous for dust bowls. The point of this series kiddo is to prove how much a sham and joke Indians number 1 rank in tests is. By the way as for stroke play I think Malinga and Herath outplayed the Indian batsmen in that department as well!

  • chokkashokka on July 21, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    blah ..blah...this test match is a boring draw...the only highlight of this game is the exciting stroke-play of the Indian batsman - they're going at almost 5 an over in the dust bowls that SL prepares for each test. What is the point of this test series exactly?

  • on July 21, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Overall a good match for TEST CRICKET :D!!

  • STres on July 21, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Here we go again, the #1 team hoping and praying for a draw, someone said fireworks from shewag - now this is a joke, my dear friend he is fighting for survival most of his scoring shots were life saving or toe saving attempts that went for 4, he will also score because SL is setting very attacking fields.

    Someone said that SL never won a test match in India - well yes the man of the match on many occasions are the Indian Umpires - recently with neutral umpires, the situ is better but the pressure and indian bribery gets to them too.

    Conditions in Galle better than South India, temperature better that most cities in India (people don't die here of heat stroke) my dear friends no excuses we are getting bloody tired of all this rubbish talk, you have your best 11 players available (out of 1,200 ml population) we have our best available player (out of 20 Ml population) let us now play cricket - you win, we say bloody good - we win, please say bloody good - no rubbish talk.

  • coolguy_sing on July 21, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    its a well known fact that India's bowling is weaker than bangladesh. But the surprise factor is that how at one of point so many bowlers were knocking the national team and now noone worthy is around. Also what happened to all the spinners in India. In the MRF bowling academy are they not teaching anyone how to spin the ball?? Am baffled with such inconsistencies. Probably some process needs to be in place to look into this point. Coming to this match, most likely it is going to be a draw unless India loses it by itself. But am sure Indian batting can save the fort for sure. Match is already dead with a days play washed out.

  • Vallam on July 21, 2010, 0:32 GMT

    So back to same old story. When Indian bowlers operate, it is flat pitch no help to seamers and spinners. But when the opposition bowls better, Oh the condition is totally changed and now every thing is in favor of bowlers.

    Next when Sachin Tendulkar fails, the whole Indian team fails. He is a master batsman and this time the bowler got one unplayful ball and surprised Sachin. Other batsmen should learn to take responsibilities. Has Sachin delivered when India wants? Same old stories. Have we not heard / read this million times.

    India is not worth its place in ranking; let us accept we have a better team compared to Bangladesh, Zimbavee, etc.

  • Mushtanda on July 20, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    indians are scoring at over 4.5 an over, which belies the assertion that SL bowling has been good. in fact, indian bowling's overall economy was a tad better than this.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 20, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    Can't see too far past a draw, pity that the rain was stole so much. Must say there is a little oomph more in the pitch than in most of the other subcontinental pitches of late. The little bounce makes a diff. Sehwag once again proving why HE (and not Ghambir) is the best batsman in the world at the moment. He really seems to be on a different level from his peers. Malinga looks pretty good and Murali is unlucky not to have VVS. Sharma bowled better for a spell but he needs to learn that one good spell per match is not up to standard and the fact that he fell away to the end + no support, saw Herath (who played beautifully) and Malnga cash in. Must say the Ind fielding was too poor...again and in such conditions, 1 needs to hold chances.

  • BihariKababsZindabad on July 20, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    Whatever the result may be, the #1 test team could not bowl out the Sri Lankan team AND were hit for 164 runs on the 7th and 8th wicket partnerships. Moreover, the top 5 have not even managed to score as much on the same pitch. For sure, it's pretty clear this time around India isn't playing Bangladesh, or on their home soil.

  • Prash42 on July 20, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    @ vibh_ch....why do you just blindly attack players without looking at stats to back you up? The last three years Harbhajan has the following stats: year 2008 13 matches 63 wickets year 2009 6 matches 29 wickets year 2010 4 matches 12 wickets

    I dont mind you having your opinion and not liking a player but please don't just come here and say he hasn't done anything......

  • on July 20, 2010, 20:16 GMT

    its a Draw. murali may bowl the last over to laxman on 5th day

  • on July 20, 2010, 19:07 GMT

    Get Sehwag out and win the match :)

  • on July 20, 2010, 19:07 GMT

    @manasvi .......... pls go thru the team ... mishra is not in d team ...

  • archilion on July 20, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    SL bowlers were impressive, but they still haven't got enough time to bowl-out strong Indian line-up twice in just over 2 days. I dont see this match anywhere else but a disappointing draw. The only thing left in the match is some entertaining fireworks from Viru and hopes for Murali to reach the mark.

  • kitten on July 20, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    If Dravid and Tendi play even half of what they are capable of, in the second innings, the game will be saved, no worries. Gambhir won't fall so easily the second time, and Yuvraj I am sure will contribute at least in one of the two innings. But before all that happens, I am looking forward to another dashing innings by our favourite cavalier, Viru. The first 20 minutes is crucial. If he weathers it(no pun intended), the shots will flow and we will be in for a glorious morning/afternoon of entertainment. Being in Toronto, I will have to forgo some sleep(game commences at 12 midnight!), but I am sure it will be worth it.

  • vibh_ch on July 20, 2010, 16:55 GMT

    Indeed,a very good bowling display by Sri Lanka.They were incisive and looked like getting wickets.Expect this to continue even in Murali's absence for the rest of the series.Our famed batting line-up should be up to it,not like how Sachin was today.Neither should they be as casual in judging as Dravid was.Its their reputation at stake.We are staring at a humiliating innings defeat and it will happen in all probability,but for an exceptional rearguard in the 2nd innings.Coming to the Indian bowling,its better if we can rely more on pacers and look to strengthen that aspect in the long term,because nothing much can be said about that overhyped HSingh,forget Ojha and Mishra.They look pedestrian.Ojha is nothing more than a containing bowler.Harbhajan has gone off the boil for at least 3yrs now.With the exit of Kumble,Indian spin legacy has ended,until we find someone with that heart to take wickets.I dont Harbhajan to be around for more than about an year or two at max.

  • kssrikanth on July 20, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    I think the indian batsmen have to bat out of their skins to save this match.first session of the day 4 will be crucial and the result is dependend on that session.SRILANKA`s WIN & DRAW every thing lies in the hands of VIRU.so all the best TEAM INDIA....

  • Lion_of_Lanka on July 20, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    It was nice to see the Indians giving Murali the guard of honour...

  • Molu14 on July 20, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    As an eager Indian fan, I felt shocked to see that after a stirring bowling performance from Ishant which looked certain to roll Sri Lanka out for 360, the Indians gave away 150 runs to two less-than-capable tail-enders! Dhoni's field placements were appalling, as both continously edged and lifted catches but there was no one to take them! Some hopeless bowling from the leaky-faucet Ojha and less-than-full-strength Bhajii didn't help India's cause either as they were plundered for six after six. If you look at Malinga and Herath's previous records, you can clearly see that both are true tail-enders and neither possess an average of more than 10. Has anyone noticed that tail-enders always ake their best score against India due to lack of pressure applied and loose, carefree bufet bowling? Reminiscent of the Hogg-Lee partnership in that fateful Sydney test, where India had a similar amount of control before gift-wrapping the match to the Aussies (who were helped by incompetent umpiring)

  • CAJOSEPH on July 20, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    It's going to be a real big test for India. An exiting day of test cricket awaits us tomorrow. Although I would be putting my money on a draw, it would definitely be exiting to watch how the Indians keep the Sri Lankans at bay and avoid the follow on. If the follow on is avoided, this test match would loose its charm, its gonna be just another tame draw. If India follow's on, it would be a chance for the famed batting line up to show the world, why this team managed to reach the number one ranking on their batting strength alone.

  • on July 20, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    only rain can save india now

  • ajithlalm on July 20, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    I think India lacks wicket taking bowlers. Most probably there should be more aggressive fast bowlers who strikes better and also a good spinner who can take wickets. Most probably one or two all rounders are needed in the team who can pick up wickets with short spells. I wished Sachin Tendulkar should have given shorter spells most probably he might have picked one or two wickets.

  • manasvi_lingam on July 20, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    Given that there's not much batting to follow, a collapse is on our hands unless Laxman digs in, proves his critics wrong for the 1000th time and also we need another Sehwag special. None of the tail can bat, with the exception of Mishra to some extent. Dhoni is the only other hope since Yuvraj may not fire.

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  • manasvi_lingam on July 20, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    Given that there's not much batting to follow, a collapse is on our hands unless Laxman digs in, proves his critics wrong for the 1000th time and also we need another Sehwag special. None of the tail can bat, with the exception of Mishra to some extent. Dhoni is the only other hope since Yuvraj may not fire.

  • ajithlalm on July 20, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    I think India lacks wicket taking bowlers. Most probably there should be more aggressive fast bowlers who strikes better and also a good spinner who can take wickets. Most probably one or two all rounders are needed in the team who can pick up wickets with short spells. I wished Sachin Tendulkar should have given shorter spells most probably he might have picked one or two wickets.

  • on July 20, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    only rain can save india now

  • CAJOSEPH on July 20, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    It's going to be a real big test for India. An exiting day of test cricket awaits us tomorrow. Although I would be putting my money on a draw, it would definitely be exiting to watch how the Indians keep the Sri Lankans at bay and avoid the follow on. If the follow on is avoided, this test match would loose its charm, its gonna be just another tame draw. If India follow's on, it would be a chance for the famed batting line up to show the world, why this team managed to reach the number one ranking on their batting strength alone.

  • Molu14 on July 20, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    As an eager Indian fan, I felt shocked to see that after a stirring bowling performance from Ishant which looked certain to roll Sri Lanka out for 360, the Indians gave away 150 runs to two less-than-capable tail-enders! Dhoni's field placements were appalling, as both continously edged and lifted catches but there was no one to take them! Some hopeless bowling from the leaky-faucet Ojha and less-than-full-strength Bhajii didn't help India's cause either as they were plundered for six after six. If you look at Malinga and Herath's previous records, you can clearly see that both are true tail-enders and neither possess an average of more than 10. Has anyone noticed that tail-enders always ake their best score against India due to lack of pressure applied and loose, carefree bufet bowling? Reminiscent of the Hogg-Lee partnership in that fateful Sydney test, where India had a similar amount of control before gift-wrapping the match to the Aussies (who were helped by incompetent umpiring)

  • Lion_of_Lanka on July 20, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    It was nice to see the Indians giving Murali the guard of honour...

  • kssrikanth on July 20, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    I think the indian batsmen have to bat out of their skins to save this match.first session of the day 4 will be crucial and the result is dependend on that session.SRILANKA`s WIN & DRAW every thing lies in the hands of VIRU.so all the best TEAM INDIA....

  • vibh_ch on July 20, 2010, 16:55 GMT

    Indeed,a very good bowling display by Sri Lanka.They were incisive and looked like getting wickets.Expect this to continue even in Murali's absence for the rest of the series.Our famed batting line-up should be up to it,not like how Sachin was today.Neither should they be as casual in judging as Dravid was.Its their reputation at stake.We are staring at a humiliating innings defeat and it will happen in all probability,but for an exceptional rearguard in the 2nd innings.Coming to the Indian bowling,its better if we can rely more on pacers and look to strengthen that aspect in the long term,because nothing much can be said about that overhyped HSingh,forget Ojha and Mishra.They look pedestrian.Ojha is nothing more than a containing bowler.Harbhajan has gone off the boil for at least 3yrs now.With the exit of Kumble,Indian spin legacy has ended,until we find someone with that heart to take wickets.I dont Harbhajan to be around for more than about an year or two at max.

  • kitten on July 20, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    If Dravid and Tendi play even half of what they are capable of, in the second innings, the game will be saved, no worries. Gambhir won't fall so easily the second time, and Yuvraj I am sure will contribute at least in one of the two innings. But before all that happens, I am looking forward to another dashing innings by our favourite cavalier, Viru. The first 20 minutes is crucial. If he weathers it(no pun intended), the shots will flow and we will be in for a glorious morning/afternoon of entertainment. Being in Toronto, I will have to forgo some sleep(game commences at 12 midnight!), but I am sure it will be worth it.

  • archilion on July 20, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    SL bowlers were impressive, but they still haven't got enough time to bowl-out strong Indian line-up twice in just over 2 days. I dont see this match anywhere else but a disappointing draw. The only thing left in the match is some entertaining fireworks from Viru and hopes for Murali to reach the mark.