Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, SSC, 1st day July 26, 2010

Paranavitana solves a top-order problem

33

Tharanga Paranavitana is not a very remarkable batsman. When Tillakaratne Dilshan cuts and slashes and hooks, Paranavitana quietly blends into the background and picks runs. He doesn't have Kumar Sangakkara's extravagant drives, nor Mahela Jayawardene's silken shots. If you run into him in an elevator, chances are you won't recognise him. He is not a lawyer, nor is he the man with the funky beard and a shot named after him. He is neither the polished batsman from the Colombo school, nor the maverick from outstation.

But the man has done his job in this series. Yes it was a flat track, yes the bowling was largely uninspired, but he finished his second century in two matches. And no Test century is easy - not for openers at least.

Not long ago, Paranavitana was not completing that job. In the 10 Tests before this series, he had crossed 50 four times, but failed to get the centuries that the openers are eventually judged by, when they are all batted and done. Lahiru Thirimanne, part of Test squad, had started breathing down his neck too, with 66 and 102 in the tour game.

Paranavitana's reaction upon reaching both those centuries, more extravagant than anything he did during those innings, are perhaps an indication that he had felt the heat. Both the times he has brought up the century while running towards the players' gallery, and he has continued running towards his mates both the times.

Both the innings were worth celebrating, coming from a player who not long ago threatened to become one of the long list of left-hand Sri Lankan openers who squandered their opportunities after Marvan Atapattu and Sanatha Jayasuriya stopped opening. Avishka Gunawardene, Michael Vandort, Jehan Mubarak, Upul Tharanga, and Malinda Warnapura must have been waiting for him to join the club. The team management, though, saw something extra in Paranavitana and persisted.

The first century has been a big step. Dilshan, his opening partner, sees a more confident man since that effort in Galle. "First hundred is very difficult in Test cricket," says Dilshan who now has a Tharanga to open with in all formats of the game - Upul Tharanga being the other opener in limited-overs games. "After the first hundred, he has got more confident. Today he went after loose balls. I feel he is much more comfortable now."

It was important that Sri Lanka found an opener who could play the Atatpattu to Dilshan's Jayasuriya. This is not to compare Paranavitana with Atapattu, but he has now begun to play a somewhat similar role in the partnership. "The thing is, he is giving me strike most of time, so I can go after loose balls," says Dilshan. "The important thing in the partnership is that I get freedom to go after the early overs. Then both sides are very relaxed, he gets his singles, I attack. We are both very understanding. [Paranavitana's presence is] really helpful for me."

Dilshan is optimistic that Sri Lanka are pretty close to fill the opening void left by Jayasuriya and Atapattu. "Conventional opener. Takes his time earlier, if you give loose balls later, he will attack. He has adjusted to international cricket now. Now he knows how to handle the 70s and 80s. Now he is matured, getting more hundreds for our team. Perfectly good for us as we have found a very good opener."

Apart from the centuries the other yardstick to judge openers is how well they do in conditions alien to them. The SSC, for example, is where Paranavitana has played most of his cricket. Given the current schedules, he might not be tested away from home too soon, but he has perhaps made sure that he will be present for that test when it does arrive.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • first_slip on July 27, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Who said that Dilshan is technically not ok? that is utter rubbish, and this is not a new thing to see boiling blood over pure SL talent with poor Indian and Pakistanis.

  • crickstats on July 27, 2010, 4:40 GMT

    of the lot mentioned, Vandort did score a century against Australia in Australia, not a mean effort. And more importantly, people never thought he'd score in Australia, sometimes the grit, patience and determination gets you runs, so I would like to think Paranavithana, will fight it out if given opportunity

  • parakum on July 27, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    "Looks like only people with special actions can bowl well here." Sounds like sour grapes. Look at Vaas's record in Sri Lanka. Ishant bowled well in one spell, and was almost unplayable. He just doesn't have the consistency. But I agree that India are very boring to watch.. Sri Lanka Cricket should invite teams that can play interesting cricket.

  • padhi on July 27, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    How is India ranked number #1 ? Looking at the 3 aspects of the game, their batting may be top class on paper, but when was the last time we saw a big partnership between any of the top 6 ?? The bowling is mid table at best, i.e even with Zaheer & Sreesanth, it doesn't strike fear into any side. Harbhajan seems to be following in the footsteps of Monty in terms of lack of flight etc. and being remembered for tail end batting heroics !! As for the fielding, this is the only area where India are #1, from the bottom !! even the young players don't know how to dive at the boundary. With the exception of Dravid and Laxmans close catching ability, the rest of the side bar Raina are embarrassing. Seems like Ganguly is the fielding coach !!

  • on July 27, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    our little country is happy with our little efforts your big country lacks strong fast bowlers like Malinga,Dilhara,Prasad

  • Deepfreezed on July 27, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    this solves nothing. I don't think he can last 2 overs against quality pace. Heck he barely survives on placid pitches like these.

  • EverybodylovesSachin on July 26, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    WRONG Tharanga Paranavitana is only good in Sri Lankan batting bad wickets...Indian Ranji players also batting first will score 150 runs on these bad wickets of Sri Lanka...Do not be fooled Sri Lanka with this records, You will pay heavy price when you go to Australia or England....

  • on July 26, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    I have lost hope on india...i wake up till 3 AM and they loose time after time... I dont like watching anymore

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 26, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    @Rahul Singh. Is it only Sri Lanaka? Dig deeper than that, the pitches there aren't much different than those in Pak, Ind or Bangladesh. The subcontinent and W.I. have really poor tracks and the rest of the world has been following them. The Pak vs Aus series was saved by overhead conditions. There are very few bowler friendly tracks left anywhere.

  • Trashtalk on July 26, 2010, 20:25 GMT

    I am really not sure about the test rankings cuz wiv this performance of india it looks like they are heading to loose this match as well

  • first_slip on July 27, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Who said that Dilshan is technically not ok? that is utter rubbish, and this is not a new thing to see boiling blood over pure SL talent with poor Indian and Pakistanis.

  • crickstats on July 27, 2010, 4:40 GMT

    of the lot mentioned, Vandort did score a century against Australia in Australia, not a mean effort. And more importantly, people never thought he'd score in Australia, sometimes the grit, patience and determination gets you runs, so I would like to think Paranavithana, will fight it out if given opportunity

  • parakum on July 27, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    "Looks like only people with special actions can bowl well here." Sounds like sour grapes. Look at Vaas's record in Sri Lanka. Ishant bowled well in one spell, and was almost unplayable. He just doesn't have the consistency. But I agree that India are very boring to watch.. Sri Lanka Cricket should invite teams that can play interesting cricket.

  • padhi on July 27, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    How is India ranked number #1 ? Looking at the 3 aspects of the game, their batting may be top class on paper, but when was the last time we saw a big partnership between any of the top 6 ?? The bowling is mid table at best, i.e even with Zaheer & Sreesanth, it doesn't strike fear into any side. Harbhajan seems to be following in the footsteps of Monty in terms of lack of flight etc. and being remembered for tail end batting heroics !! As for the fielding, this is the only area where India are #1, from the bottom !! even the young players don't know how to dive at the boundary. With the exception of Dravid and Laxmans close catching ability, the rest of the side bar Raina are embarrassing. Seems like Ganguly is the fielding coach !!

  • on July 27, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    our little country is happy with our little efforts your big country lacks strong fast bowlers like Malinga,Dilhara,Prasad

  • Deepfreezed on July 27, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    this solves nothing. I don't think he can last 2 overs against quality pace. Heck he barely survives on placid pitches like these.

  • EverybodylovesSachin on July 26, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    WRONG Tharanga Paranavitana is only good in Sri Lankan batting bad wickets...Indian Ranji players also batting first will score 150 runs on these bad wickets of Sri Lanka...Do not be fooled Sri Lanka with this records, You will pay heavy price when you go to Australia or England....

  • on July 26, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    I have lost hope on india...i wake up till 3 AM and they loose time after time... I dont like watching anymore

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 26, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    @Rahul Singh. Is it only Sri Lanaka? Dig deeper than that, the pitches there aren't much different than those in Pak, Ind or Bangladesh. The subcontinent and W.I. have really poor tracks and the rest of the world has been following them. The Pak vs Aus series was saved by overhead conditions. There are very few bowler friendly tracks left anywhere.

  • Trashtalk on July 26, 2010, 20:25 GMT

    I am really not sure about the test rankings cuz wiv this performance of india it looks like they are heading to loose this match as well

  • on July 26, 2010, 20:18 GMT

    guys he is good operner only in subcontinetal pitches.. thats for sure.. he will be fade when its come to play away from home.. garante..just wait and see. any way he has done good job so far.. well done..some credit we have to give him.

    good luck boy..

  • on July 26, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    Player like paranavitana is wasim jaffer of India who plays well only in sub-continent

  • manojkris on July 26, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    To say that English attack is one of the best............it's a joke., R u from another planet..,, Pakistan I agree.,For that matter even Sri Lanka one of the smallest if not for the smallest country to play cricket produces more talent than any of these so called big guns.............India must be ashamed of themselves always coming out with excuses saying injury to Zaheer, and Sreesanth...........Such a massive country, cricket crazy country, but no back up bowlers .........................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • crishantha_n on July 26, 2010, 19:28 GMT

    Congrats to him! He has the temerement to be a good test opener. May be he is not yet tested in seaming conditions. But scoring the No # test ranked team is a great thing. (Though it is toothless) Hats off to the young guy.

    When a SL batsman score a century it is just a century scored on a flat pitch. If Tendulkar score a century on SSC pitch they rank him as the best batsman in the world. (GOD)

  • on July 26, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    1. Jayasuriya Vs Dilshan: To me Dilshan has the intent of Jayasuriya and technique of Mahanama. But there is only one Jayasuriya, one Mahanama and one Dilshan.

    2. Paranawitharana vs Atapattu: Lets not forget that Attapattu Scored a solitary run in his first six innings before he became a great player. Paranawitharana has got a good start at home and lets hope he proves it away too.

    3. Can we kindly have some away games with different oppositions in different conditions to be fair please? This is not to say that we don't fancy India. But too much is good for nothing.

  • Vilander on July 26, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    This indian attack looks geneuinly club class when playing in SL at the moment, so yeah we will have to wait for him to play others, probably an Aus in Aus or SA..or Pak when their good team turns up.

  • on July 26, 2010, 18:28 GMT

    against Indian bowling that is, unnecessarily wasted or ctrlcved that monologue!

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 26, 2010, 18:11 GMT

    A good player but his technique seems too limited when the ball is doing a bit, pretty much similar to Farahat of Pak and even Phil Hughes maybe. Just like the 2 other openers I mentioned, there is still alot of time for him to prove himself and see if he can grow into the status of Simon Katich or even Graeme Smith, two other openers which are very effective despite not being graceful.

  • on July 26, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    .. at least on Sri Lankan pitches, that is.

  • on July 26, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    u people are forgetting the bench strength, Upul Tharang,Michael Vendot,Lahiru Thrimaanna all are in good touch, if these players are competing on each other like this, there will b a bright future for the opening spot regardless of the opposition

  • Maestro_of_Cricket on July 26, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    Has a long way to go, this guy. Far far tougher challenges are in front of him, which even Dilshan hasn't confronted with as a Test opener. But unlike Dilshan, Paranavitana is technically ok, meaning that he has a far better chance of surviving testing conditions and bowlers.

  • ratee on July 26, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    Well so far so good.Maybe they have found the opener they had been looking at?

    Yeah but looking at history only 50% players really reach their potential.

  • kevinja on July 26, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    Well done Tharanga we were looking for a solid partner for a long time .

  • kevinja on July 26, 2010, 17:39 GMT

    I agree with Ashik. However it is not his fault that india has a weak bowling Attack. Usman You need to get your Comment right. It makes NO sense!!! I am not sure whether it is your knowledge of English or Cricket!

  • on July 26, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    We cannot ever compare him to Atapattu who had many shots around the wicket, technically correct elegant and he could score at a higher rate when needed. But he may score his runs and be a long term opener.

  • on July 26, 2010, 17:14 GMT

    No offense intended, but cricket in Sri Lanka is just so boring to watch. Looks like only people with special actions can bowl well here. Normal bowling is just so boring to watch on these pitches. Pakistan vs Australia was just super amazing cricket to watch. Ball doing things, batsmen being tested and gritty people like Salman Butt scoring beautifully. Seriously I'm so bored that right now the biggest thought popping up in my head is that 'Cricket in Sri Lanka' is one of the reasons they say test cricket is dying.

  • on July 26, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    Too early to pass any judgment. He has done his bit against scoring a toothless attack. Will see when the litmus test come.

  • usman_nile1994 on July 26, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    He can only survive on sub-continental pitches. He will not be scoreless in Aus Eng Sa

  • on July 26, 2010, 15:19 GMT

    I'm sure it is never easy to being dilshan's test partner ... look at the today's game dilshans strike rate (140) i think he play test with T20 mind

  • on July 26, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    Before we call P as the next Attapattu let us see how he does abroad...on Sri lankan pitches and toothless Indian attack they always do well. I would like to see how these guys do against say a Pakistani or English attack which are the best bowling attacks in the cricketing world right now

  • mrmonty on July 26, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    While playing in SL only, that is..

  • vibh_ch on July 26, 2010, 15:07 GMT

    Dont get excited with what is happening in this test series.With an Indian attack as thin as it can ever get,bowlers looking pedestral,none looking like taking wickets,home conditions where almost every Sri Lankan,young and old,having scored runs,tons of them,in a bradmanesque fashion,only that Sri Lanka can get out of this is revenge for them losing a series in India last year.Only Sangakkara can claim to be world class batsman in this line-up,Jayawardene coming close second,Dilshan being a freak,Samaraweera being a home-lion.Sanga has hundred almost in every country,Mahela can score a few if they happen to play more abroad.But Sri Lankans' true potential can never be judged as they play abroad in SA,Aus,Eng,WI once in about 6 to 8 years,only 2 tests at maximum.Dont jump over Pvitana.India cannot claim Gambhir to be a world class batsman until he does well in the above countries,against Pakistan,despite all his recent hundreds.So stop this non-sense.

  • auggie on July 26, 2010, 14:53 GMT

    Malinda Warnapura and Michael Van Dort did not squander much as you mention. They were not really failures but victims of the previous selectors joker reign (ala Atapattu) Warnapura played 14 tests and crossed 50 nine times including 2 centuries. Van Dort passed 50 eight times with 4 centuries in 20 matches (twice not out) The centuries included a fighting 105 in Edgbaston. Upul Tharanga has been a brilliant ODI player with 24 scores over 50 in 100 matches including eight centuries. If these players represented a country where selectors were non political they would have not been booted out. In any case political or not SL selcors never have had a sense of cricketing acumen the present lot not included as its still remains to see what they do....

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  • auggie on July 26, 2010, 14:53 GMT

    Malinda Warnapura and Michael Van Dort did not squander much as you mention. They were not really failures but victims of the previous selectors joker reign (ala Atapattu) Warnapura played 14 tests and crossed 50 nine times including 2 centuries. Van Dort passed 50 eight times with 4 centuries in 20 matches (twice not out) The centuries included a fighting 105 in Edgbaston. Upul Tharanga has been a brilliant ODI player with 24 scores over 50 in 100 matches including eight centuries. If these players represented a country where selectors were non political they would have not been booted out. In any case political or not SL selcors never have had a sense of cricketing acumen the present lot not included as its still remains to see what they do....

  • vibh_ch on July 26, 2010, 15:07 GMT

    Dont get excited with what is happening in this test series.With an Indian attack as thin as it can ever get,bowlers looking pedestral,none looking like taking wickets,home conditions where almost every Sri Lankan,young and old,having scored runs,tons of them,in a bradmanesque fashion,only that Sri Lanka can get out of this is revenge for them losing a series in India last year.Only Sangakkara can claim to be world class batsman in this line-up,Jayawardene coming close second,Dilshan being a freak,Samaraweera being a home-lion.Sanga has hundred almost in every country,Mahela can score a few if they happen to play more abroad.But Sri Lankans' true potential can never be judged as they play abroad in SA,Aus,Eng,WI once in about 6 to 8 years,only 2 tests at maximum.Dont jump over Pvitana.India cannot claim Gambhir to be a world class batsman until he does well in the above countries,against Pakistan,despite all his recent hundreds.So stop this non-sense.

  • mrmonty on July 26, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    While playing in SL only, that is..

  • on July 26, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    Before we call P as the next Attapattu let us see how he does abroad...on Sri lankan pitches and toothless Indian attack they always do well. I would like to see how these guys do against say a Pakistani or English attack which are the best bowling attacks in the cricketing world right now

  • on July 26, 2010, 15:19 GMT

    I'm sure it is never easy to being dilshan's test partner ... look at the today's game dilshans strike rate (140) i think he play test with T20 mind

  • usman_nile1994 on July 26, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    He can only survive on sub-continental pitches. He will not be scoreless in Aus Eng Sa

  • on July 26, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    Too early to pass any judgment. He has done his bit against scoring a toothless attack. Will see when the litmus test come.

  • on July 26, 2010, 17:14 GMT

    No offense intended, but cricket in Sri Lanka is just so boring to watch. Looks like only people with special actions can bowl well here. Normal bowling is just so boring to watch on these pitches. Pakistan vs Australia was just super amazing cricket to watch. Ball doing things, batsmen being tested and gritty people like Salman Butt scoring beautifully. Seriously I'm so bored that right now the biggest thought popping up in my head is that 'Cricket in Sri Lanka' is one of the reasons they say test cricket is dying.

  • on July 26, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    We cannot ever compare him to Atapattu who had many shots around the wicket, technically correct elegant and he could score at a higher rate when needed. But he may score his runs and be a long term opener.

  • kevinja on July 26, 2010, 17:39 GMT

    I agree with Ashik. However it is not his fault that india has a weak bowling Attack. Usman You need to get your Comment right. It makes NO sense!!! I am not sure whether it is your knowledge of English or Cricket!