Sri Lanka v India, 3rd Test, P Sara Oval, 5th day August 7, 2010

Consistent Randiv earns his respect

It was tough to not spare a thought for Randiv, who bowled skilfully and didn't dish out too many freebies despite his inexperience at the highest level

It was the 65th over of India's chase. The game was lost, with just 26 runs to defend and five wickets to take. Suraj Randiv was bowling his 29th over. He had just been driven for four through extra-cover by VVS Laxman. Another wristy flick towards mid-off followed. It was a powerful shot, but Randiv dived full length to his left, and saved a certain four. The man didn't want to go down just as yet. Perhaps he didn't deserve to go down today. Not after his match haul of 9 for 162 in only his second Test, including all the wickets to fall in the second innings.

Randiv had a rough initiation into Test cricket. The first ball he bowled in Tests was short, not a long hop but short, and Virender Sehwag mercilessly cut it to backward point for four. He adjusted the lengths, but bowled one slightly short of a length later in the over. Sehwag punched that for four too. Already, the field was pushed back. That was the second day of the SSC Test, when in a short evening session, Sehwag took 14 runs off the 10 balls Randiv bowled.

On the second morning, though, Randiv came back. Bowling to Sehwag on 99. He knew Sehwag would look to go after him, so he bowled the topspinner first ball, beating Sehwag in the flight and getting him stumped. He had had his revenge, and Randiv would go on to dismiss Sehwag for the rest of the series. That was also the difference between a close defeat and a walkover here.

It was what Randiv did in the second innings at the P Sara Oval, though, that was a giant effort. The figures themselves are massive. He opened the bowling, got Sehwag out in his first over, and then bowled 21 overs unchanged, for four wickets in that spell. A break? Perish the thought. Three overs later, he was bowling from the other end. And then an over later, he went back to the preferred Air Force Flats End to take Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, keeping Sri Lanka alive.

Randiv extracted bounce from the pitch. He got turn. He has a classical action with that beautiful pivot off the front foot to boot. Most importantly, though, he was so consistent he let the captain work to a plan. Mostly he bowled round the stumps to the right-handed batsmen, pitching the ball within the stumps and getting sharp turn. A leg-side trap was set: a leg slip, a forward short leg, a short midwicket, sometimes two of them, and three deep fielders on the on side. It was crucial that he didn't give anything to cut or drive through the off side, which was virtually bare.

Randiv responded beautifully. There was hardly a chance to get runs off him on the off side without taking a risk. His extra bounce made it difficult for the batsmen to keep defensive shots down. Three of his five wickets were caught close on the leg side. One was a result of extra bounce, and the fifth was an offbreak that didn't turn because the ball was new.

"His greatest asset has been his confidence and self belief," Kumar Sangakkara said. "He's quite an attacking bowler and he's got to have that. He has got great bounce, and he will have to improve on his control a bit more to ensure he keeps building the pressure. Once he gets that done, I think he will be even better than what we see him now."

Perhaps the old ball didn't give him as much bite, perhaps the youngster became one-dimensional, perhaps he was let down by the captain who took out his straighter one by having neither a silly point nor a slip. Perhaps he was let down by Lasith Malinga being used for just two overs in the first session. That leg-side plan went on for just too long, and more varied strategies is what Randiv will learn with time. On this day, though, it was tough to not spare a thought for Randiv.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RANAPRATHAP on August 9, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    Randiv is a good bowler and have the potential to become a regular player in sl side.but sl selectors always think differently.i wonder how he is picked into sl team even though he has a normal bowling action.i personally dont like srilankan team because they only bring bowlers of abnormal bowling actions which is awkward to watch.regarding sanga Though he is a good batsman he is not a good sportsman.he is very pessimistic and always cries if the opposite team wins just like kevin pietersen.he will never appreciate players in other teams for playing well

  • kapilesh on August 9, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    let make randhiv bawl indian batsman in mumbai or kolkata and than we will see how good he is.

  • Anthony on August 9, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    History repeats itself! When SL went out to bat in the 2nd innings they batted as if they were chasing victory. All they had to realise was that the Indians had to win the match to square the series. Victory would have been SL's if only they had batted as long as possible and declared setting India a target where they would have been given a run chase against the clock. Where was Sri Lanka's brains trust? If the Indians declined to take up the challenge, so be it. A similar situation occurred in the West Indies a few years ago when SL went into the last test leading one nil. There too they batted badly in the 3rd innings allowing the West Indies to make their target without taking undue risks. SL do not even learn from their past mistakes. Bayliss, Law and Sangakkara, where were your thinking caps? The worst result from an SL point of view then would have been a draw and a series win. Cricketing talent is one thing, but you must have brains to go with it. History repeats itself indeed!

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    nothing to say cuz series levels i seen somebody sayz tht sanga fault india dint win the series so dnt say tht sangakara bad also sangakara is world top batsmen on ranking no 1 and shewag no 2 and india is best team also so good match no 1ns fault thts it

  • Rajasundram on August 9, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Does Gurpreet think that the Indian batsmen were giving Diwali presents. You think they did it on purpose - pity this new bowler Randiv or the aged horse Murali - this is his last Test let give him 8 for old times sake or because he plays for Chennai Kings captained by Dhoni. My dear Gurpreet - NO BATSMAN gets out on purpose - they value their wickets, so the bowler has to 'fool' them to earn wickets. Enough said about bad/careless shots!

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2010, 8:25 GMT

    Nirad_N-....srilanka cant win test series in their own country when indian is missing 3 main team players(Gambhir,ZAHEER KHAN and Bhajji) then sanga cant say tat india is not no.1 team. well first of all how much did ghambir score in da first test match?? oh yeah dts right he didnt even score 10 runs!!! and then bhajji.. he only took 2 wickets in da 2 matches he played, while shewag took more than him!!!and finally zaheer u think he would have made an impact to da series??

    satanwish,u have said dt india hs won test matches in south africa and in australia, and that srilanka hsnt wn any matches in those 2 countries. well srilanka gt there test status in 1982!!!!! fr how many years have india played test criket for????

  • rohit on August 9, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    Do you think Mr. pubudu srilanka got any batsman who scored runs or centuries outside srilanka. Smaraweera scored 11 out of 12 centuries in srilanka. Sangakkara & Jayawardene scored 20 odd centuries out of 28 in srilanka & believe me the remaining & seven or eight are against Bangla & Zim. Dilshan except for T20 never scored outside srilanka. so better of you look at your own batting & beware of calling our batsman as flat track bullies. Srilanka yet to win test in India, Australia & South Africa & believe me recently the test match they won in West Indies that is only because of the nature of their team (Oh! i got it Samarweera scored only away century of his career in this match).On the contrary just check batting record of our fab four they scored majority of their centuries forget about India but away from subcontinant. In that time we beat England, Aussies, New Zealand, West Indies in their own den. Squred the series in Srilanka its a different thing that they never beat us in Ind

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Ya, Randhiv has shown that he will remain with the team for many years to come in the future.He is a quality bowler with extraordinary talent.But he need to maintain his consistency.

  • Y on August 8, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Gurpreet Singh are such a sore looser...even after your side has won a game. Man, Randive got 9 wickets against a very talented indian team, however it comes never matter. I believe that you have never played this game to understand this little facts. Anyhow, when india lost in Galle they lost and they won in Colombothey won. Thant what it is. What if I were to say that India got lucky on this last test, I can even imagine what your single mined head would learn how to respect the opponent, looks a lot classy then.

  • SRINI on August 8, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    It is nonsese to say Sri Lanka 'gifted' India the win or vive versa; similar is the argument about 'if Dilshan did not drop Sachin..." kind of statements. First no team is going to gift anything away. Batsmen may play a reckless shot or two and bowlers may bowl some howlers (remember Harmison's opening delivery in the 2006-7 Ashes Down Under?) These are all part and parcel of any cricket match. Just accept the fact of a loss and move on. This applies to all teams and all fans.

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