Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, P Sara Oval, 3rd day August 5, 2010

Indian twist in the tail

The last three added 86, runs that would be twice as difficult to get when batting last on this crumbling beauty of a Test pitch
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India have long been suffering at the hands of opposition tails. The latest was when Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath added 115 runs for eighth wicket in the first innings in Galle. That was one of the many points that contributed to a loss that shouldn't have been. Today, though, the boot was on the other foot: India's last three added 86, runs that would be twice as difficult to get when batting last on this crumbling beauty of a Test pitch.

For those Indian fans who can't forget the agonising partnerships featuring the opposition tailenders - and there are many - the stand between Abimanyu Mithun and Amit Mishra - 64 runs, 16.4 overs - might provide catharsis. It was that extraordinary spell of play that India needed on a tour full of woe. That something extra to cast doubt in the minds of the Sri Lankan batsmen. That slender lead to think of a win on this tour so far.

When Mithun and Mishra came together, Sri Lanka had been superb strategically. They had stopped being defensive against Virender Sehwag. Suraj Randiv got sharp turn from round the stumps, packed the on side, and Sehwag found the pitch was a bit too difficult to force that inside-out shot. VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina batted beautifully for their fifties, but there was alarming turn from the pitch, which Ajantha Mendis exploited from round the stumps. MS Dhoni's injured finger was peppered by Lasith Malinga, and Sri Lanka were sensing a lead of around 50 when Mishra joined Mithun.

Mithun had already looked comfortable in scoring 12 off 18 by then, but now Sri Lanka would come at him and his partner with full force. Soon Mishra was digging out yorkers, getting his right index finger magic-sprayed, all in an over. In the next over, Mithun's turn arrived. One bouncer flew left of his shoulder, another jammed into his glove. New ball duly arrived. At least four bouncers Mithun took on the hand.

Neither men flinched or backed away or played an unconvincing hook. That they got fingers around their bats was an effort enough. When they could get out of the line they did, when they couldn't, they managed to keep the ball down.

It wasn't all bloody-minded determination, though. Both of them planned and picked the bowlers and deliveries to hit. Mithun was quick to read Mendis' googlies. Whenever he saw flight, he tried to hit down the ground, powerfully. But with the new ball, they had to wait. Wait for the yorkers, wait for the bouncers. Get behind one, try to avoid the other. Nine overs went, 25 runs came, toes were saved, fingers were hammered.

Mishra jumped out as soon as he saw Mendis, lofting him over midwicket. Release was badly needed then. In the next over, Mishra produced the shot of the partnership, flicking a Malinga yorker to long leg. Mithun joined in, cutting a short and wide one from Malinga in front of point. Had the tail caved in, Sri Lanka would have been leading by about 70-80; they were now looking at level scores.

The difference on a breaking pitch is huge. "At one stage we were 350 for 7, and after that Mithun and Amit Mishra batted really well," Virender Sehwag said. "They were responsible for us getting the lead. Full credit goes to the tailenders."

Both of them missed fifties, but as it turned out that too helped India. Sehwag may not have turned up with the bat on Thursday, but he sure as hell did with the ball, removing Tharanga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan with sharp spin in the one hour or so India got in the evening.

Apart from the team cause, this would have contributed to their personal confidence too. Mishra has had a horror match with the ball, bowling seven no-balls, getting warnings for running on the pitch, conceding 140 runs for a solitary wicket. Mithun has run in hard throughout the tour, put his all in, been fit, been strong - but with few results. With the bat too, he fought for close to one hour of the final day in Galle, and came close to scoring a fifty at the SSC. Neither of those efforts altered the way the match went, but here he and Mishra have given themselves a great chance to give their batsmen a manageable chase in the final innings of the series.

If they do well with the ball on the fourth day, at some stage they will be bowling to the Sri Lankan tail too. If they run through the Sri Lanka lower order then, it will have been some change of fortunes for a team that is often on the wrong end of lower-order contributions.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 6, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Mithun is the true example of how determination can make a player stand out from others

  • on August 6, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    @ Vivek.Bhandari : Boss Not sure about other comments, But UDRS definately a part of this article, because Mithun and Ishanth were not out... but given out. They might have scored more runs.. However pretty cool that SL is already 8 down.. and sehwag took 2 wickets yesterday itself.

    @ hattima: May be u r correct, but in the future as Tendulkar suggested we should go for hot spot method, may be it is more accurate than UDRS.

  • on August 6, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    On this day for India The bowlers BATTED while The batsman BOWLED

  • Vivek.Bhandari on August 6, 2010, 4:17 GMT

    I just can't understand how and why few people provide comments that is not in sync with the theme of the article, at all...:-/...some of us have talked about VVS, Lankans dropping catches, UDRS among all other things...

  • maddy20 on August 6, 2010, 2:13 GMT

    @Montys muse You can give the prolonged tag to Srilanka's tai(Even Srilanka's top order). I have seen Ajantha Mendis score 0 of 26. I got pissed off and turned the tv off. India scored at 4.13 and Sri Lanka 3.07

  • jamrith on August 6, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    The Indian bowlers have good batting averages but poor bowling averages.Much as we admire their courage as lower-order batsmen they have not delivered in their primary responsibility of bowling, maybe today will be different ?

  • jamrith on August 6, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    Ojha and Malinga should be censured for over-the-top celebrations when they got Sanga and Sachin respectively, the Sri Lankan fielders, especially the 2 Jayawardenes, should be fined for over-appealing.

  • PandyaHimanshu on August 5, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    Indian selectors...... please give more chance to Mithun. He shows lots of maturity in this series and he is improving a lot. Please........donot drop him out of the test/oneday/T20 team without giving him enough chances which u guys normally do. Don't forgot to give him a chance even in South Africa later this year. At least he shows that he is a fit guy and not like Zaheer who gets injured after every match. So please take this man forward............good for the Indian cricket future.

  • montys_muse on August 5, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    i think prolonged would be the appropriate wod rather than persistent..

  • montys_muse on August 5, 2010, 20:11 GMT

    If a batsman is fined for showing dissent after given out incorrectly, the fielders and bowler should also be fined for excessive and persistent appealing...

  • on August 6, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Mithun is the true example of how determination can make a player stand out from others

  • on August 6, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    @ Vivek.Bhandari : Boss Not sure about other comments, But UDRS definately a part of this article, because Mithun and Ishanth were not out... but given out. They might have scored more runs.. However pretty cool that SL is already 8 down.. and sehwag took 2 wickets yesterday itself.

    @ hattima: May be u r correct, but in the future as Tendulkar suggested we should go for hot spot method, may be it is more accurate than UDRS.

  • on August 6, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    On this day for India The bowlers BATTED while The batsman BOWLED

  • Vivek.Bhandari on August 6, 2010, 4:17 GMT

    I just can't understand how and why few people provide comments that is not in sync with the theme of the article, at all...:-/...some of us have talked about VVS, Lankans dropping catches, UDRS among all other things...

  • maddy20 on August 6, 2010, 2:13 GMT

    @Montys muse You can give the prolonged tag to Srilanka's tai(Even Srilanka's top order). I have seen Ajantha Mendis score 0 of 26. I got pissed off and turned the tv off. India scored at 4.13 and Sri Lanka 3.07

  • jamrith on August 6, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    The Indian bowlers have good batting averages but poor bowling averages.Much as we admire their courage as lower-order batsmen they have not delivered in their primary responsibility of bowling, maybe today will be different ?

  • jamrith on August 6, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    Ojha and Malinga should be censured for over-the-top celebrations when they got Sanga and Sachin respectively, the Sri Lankan fielders, especially the 2 Jayawardenes, should be fined for over-appealing.

  • PandyaHimanshu on August 5, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    Indian selectors...... please give more chance to Mithun. He shows lots of maturity in this series and he is improving a lot. Please........donot drop him out of the test/oneday/T20 team without giving him enough chances which u guys normally do. Don't forgot to give him a chance even in South Africa later this year. At least he shows that he is a fit guy and not like Zaheer who gets injured after every match. So please take this man forward............good for the Indian cricket future.

  • montys_muse on August 5, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    i think prolonged would be the appropriate wod rather than persistent..

  • montys_muse on August 5, 2010, 20:11 GMT

    If a batsman is fined for showing dissent after given out incorrectly, the fielders and bowler should also be fined for excessive and persistent appealing...

  • Nampally on August 5, 2010, 19:54 GMT

    It was determined batting by Indian team after the early dismissal of Sachin & Sehwag on Day 3. Raina, Laxman, Mithun & Mishra each played great innings on a turning wicket. India would be missing Harbhajan & Gambhir for this game thru' injuries. They would have made a lot of difference to the outcome. However Sehwag rated as the best off soin bowler in India by Bedi, showed his class by taking 2 quick wickets. Ojha was spinning the ball well in the first innings. If India can get a couple of quick wickets this game can become very interesting tomorrow. India has a good chance of tieing the series with a win if they bat up to their potential. The pitch has become slower but it has become a turner instead. Dhoni needs to get SL out for under 200 if India has any chance of winning this match. On this turner, Randiv & Mendis will be a handful in the fourth innings. The Toss has really become a factor. India's reputed batting line up has to show itself to win the match Good Luck India..

  • Yaksha on August 5, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    @S.N.Singh, you can't be serious when you claim Sehwag and Sachin was disappointing. Sure, they didn't add much today, but then they did stabilize the innings and had a terrific partnership. And seriously, you are bringing umpires in the play? As long as they don't pull a bucknor, everything is fine. Mistakes can be made!! You roll with the chances. I like the use of technology as well. Please refrain from such comments.

  • bharath74 on August 5, 2010, 19:31 GMT

    Mithun doesnt have the pace but hopefully in bowler friendly conditions he will be great, he is working hard both on his bowling and batting, he is not throwing the wicket away, I am sure that immensely talented Pakistani top order should learn from the tailenders like Mishra and Mithun bcos they put a price on their wicket.

  • on August 5, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    Today Match Shows The Spirit Of The Indian Cricket Team Players....! Well Done...! Keep It Up...!

  • klobania on August 5, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    ha ha ha finally indian tailenders contributed with something i mean batting hopefully they will show consistency in bowling dept n go for target of atleast 400 runs

  • on August 5, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    indians have only themselves to blame about the umpire's mistakes because it was the indian team who didnt want to use the UDRS system because of their poor usage of it last year. It makes NO sense in not using it as it is going to be in the world cup soon. India didnt go ahead with the system because they felt that they would be giving Sri Lanka an advantage.

  • sanjutaz on August 5, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    vvs laxman again proved his worth with a classy knock..under pressure, lax is cool..

  • on August 5, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    Yes they played like a top order batsmen. Valuable partnership that has really given a chance to win this one on what was a disappointing series so far.

  • cricketkkrazy on August 5, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    After seeing the match i strongly reckon Indian lower order bats well than pakistan's top order

  • randikaayya on August 5, 2010, 17:29 GMT

    Whats with Sri Lanka and dropping catches in crunch situations??? First it was Prasanna and now its Angelo. And had the close in fielders, Mahela and Paranawithana been a yard closer to the stumps they could have grabbed a couple more. India could have been restricted to 300!

  • Dipankar_Kolkata on August 5, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    I am tired of seeing Australian/SouthAfrican tails frustrating us. For a change we have been giving the same dose to our opposition for last few tests. Good Job guys.

  • JustIPL on August 5, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    It is great to see the Indian tail wagging heavily. It is one more evidence of huge Indian batting potential. It puts more pressure on the top order to perform. Only thing absent is Dhoni's onslaught alongwith the tailenders. The dark side is that bowling resouces are depleting as Bhajji is also fading. In fact, Suraj Randiv, though went unnoticed but has created impression to be the Muali's succesor.

  • Rogue777 on August 5, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    @ Shekher If Mahela was adjudged NOT OUT in the 1st innings rather than out for a bowl that was clearly missing the stumps Sri Lanka would have scored a LOT more runs! If Dilshan was given not out in India twice when he was playing for well in India we wouldnt have lost that test. If Tendulkar and Sehwag were given out as they should have being for bowls off Randhiv that were hitting the stumps India would have scored a lot less. It is clear why India did not want to have UDRS! It seems they are clearly benefiting from it!

  • ABP235 on August 5, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    Mithun has batted bravely this series. and he bowled bravely too, only to be let down initially by the umpires early in the first test and then the slip cordon comprising of the reliable Dravid and dynamic Raina. A fast bowler of his type will cause more trouble to opponents if he gets early wickets and I only hope this batting display has turned his fortunes in his favour. Hope he takes a couple of early wickets from one end, supported by Viru on the other. Mishra wont do any harm to his progress by picking up a couple. Suddenly India is smelling an outside victory!

  • Internet_Guy on August 5, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    that was a pathetic decision given by the umpire against ishant ,ball missed the bat by 6 inches

  • S.N.Singh on August 5, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    MITHUN IS COMING INTO AN ALROUNDER SPOT. SEWHAG AND TENDULKAR WAS DISAPPOINTING. THIS GAME IS GOING SRI LANKA WAY, THEY HAVE BETTER SPINNER AND THE UMPIRE BY PITCHING THE BALL ON THE LEG STUMP, AND WIDE OUT THE OFF STUMP. ON A TURNING AND BUNCING WICKET THE BATSMEN SHOULD BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. HACK EYE IS NOT TECHNICAL ENOUGH TO ASSESS THE BOUNCE AND TURN. PLAYING WAY DOWN TO TURNING BALL CANNOT BE JUDGE ? IT FOR BOTH SIDES ? S.N.SINGH USA.

  • hattima on August 5, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    @Shekher, India lost the moral right to moan those decisions when they refused UDRS.

  • VipulPatki on August 5, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    He may have deficiencies as a bowler, but Abhimanyu Mithun certainly plays with a lot of grit, determination and honesty. At least in the three tests, he has handled the Sri Lankan spinners really well. Did anyone notice he has a stance similar to VVS's? He can be definitely groomed into a lower-middle order batsman over a period of three-four years. But before that he has to rectify the defect of "falling-over" at the delivery stride. Having said that, today he ran in with lot more force and I have a feeling that India will draw the series...

  • on August 5, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    Pity Mithun and Ishanth were not out... but given out... otherwise they could have scored more runs... pschhh... I was expecting Mithun's 50+..

  • cric_lover_ on August 5, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    good to see India's tail sticking around for this long. in the past bowlers always lacked patience and application. full credit to Mishra and Mithun.

  • Neeta on August 5, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Mithun and Mishra were brilliant with the bat.With Harbhajan and Zaheer in the lower order,India can have the best 8-11Nos with the bat.Although it will not be the best bowling line up to have.

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  • Neeta on August 5, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Mithun and Mishra were brilliant with the bat.With Harbhajan and Zaheer in the lower order,India can have the best 8-11Nos with the bat.Although it will not be the best bowling line up to have.

  • cric_lover_ on August 5, 2010, 14:43 GMT

    good to see India's tail sticking around for this long. in the past bowlers always lacked patience and application. full credit to Mishra and Mithun.

  • on August 5, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    Pity Mithun and Ishanth were not out... but given out... otherwise they could have scored more runs... pschhh... I was expecting Mithun's 50+..

  • VipulPatki on August 5, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    He may have deficiencies as a bowler, but Abhimanyu Mithun certainly plays with a lot of grit, determination and honesty. At least in the three tests, he has handled the Sri Lankan spinners really well. Did anyone notice he has a stance similar to VVS's? He can be definitely groomed into a lower-middle order batsman over a period of three-four years. But before that he has to rectify the defect of "falling-over" at the delivery stride. Having said that, today he ran in with lot more force and I have a feeling that India will draw the series...

  • hattima on August 5, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    @Shekher, India lost the moral right to moan those decisions when they refused UDRS.

  • S.N.Singh on August 5, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    MITHUN IS COMING INTO AN ALROUNDER SPOT. SEWHAG AND TENDULKAR WAS DISAPPOINTING. THIS GAME IS GOING SRI LANKA WAY, THEY HAVE BETTER SPINNER AND THE UMPIRE BY PITCHING THE BALL ON THE LEG STUMP, AND WIDE OUT THE OFF STUMP. ON A TURNING AND BUNCING WICKET THE BATSMEN SHOULD BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. HACK EYE IS NOT TECHNICAL ENOUGH TO ASSESS THE BOUNCE AND TURN. PLAYING WAY DOWN TO TURNING BALL CANNOT BE JUDGE ? IT FOR BOTH SIDES ? S.N.SINGH USA.

  • Internet_Guy on August 5, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    that was a pathetic decision given by the umpire against ishant ,ball missed the bat by 6 inches

  • ABP235 on August 5, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    Mithun has batted bravely this series. and he bowled bravely too, only to be let down initially by the umpires early in the first test and then the slip cordon comprising of the reliable Dravid and dynamic Raina. A fast bowler of his type will cause more trouble to opponents if he gets early wickets and I only hope this batting display has turned his fortunes in his favour. Hope he takes a couple of early wickets from one end, supported by Viru on the other. Mishra wont do any harm to his progress by picking up a couple. Suddenly India is smelling an outside victory!

  • Rogue777 on August 5, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    @ Shekher If Mahela was adjudged NOT OUT in the 1st innings rather than out for a bowl that was clearly missing the stumps Sri Lanka would have scored a LOT more runs! If Dilshan was given not out in India twice when he was playing for well in India we wouldnt have lost that test. If Tendulkar and Sehwag were given out as they should have being for bowls off Randhiv that were hitting the stumps India would have scored a lot less. It is clear why India did not want to have UDRS! It seems they are clearly benefiting from it!

  • JustIPL on August 5, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    It is great to see the Indian tail wagging heavily. It is one more evidence of huge Indian batting potential. It puts more pressure on the top order to perform. Only thing absent is Dhoni's onslaught alongwith the tailenders. The dark side is that bowling resouces are depleting as Bhajji is also fading. In fact, Suraj Randiv, though went unnoticed but has created impression to be the Muali's succesor.