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

Paranavitana solves a top-order problem


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

  • Prbath 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.

  • Crick 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

  • Manjuka 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.

  • prad 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 !!

  • Dummy4 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

  • Deep 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.

  • Chetan 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....

  • Dummy4 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

  • Dre 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.

  • Munaim 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

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