Thursday, 9 January 2014

Through arrows and bullet wounds

Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Day, 2nd Test. Dubai 

John Hamish Watson recently wedded Mary Moston on BBC One, on their hit TV Sherlock. Mr. Holmes was the aptly chosen to be his best man and in the process of being quite possibly the worst best man ever, he delivered a best man's speech for the ages. At one point, he said "I will solve your murder, but it takes John Watson to save your life".

If Sherlock Holmes is to Kumar Sangakkara, then John Watson is to Mahela Jayawardane. Sangakkara will be the pinnacle of Sri Lanka's batting prowess through the ages, he will be the master wordsmith who delivers the fanciest speeches, and he will be the one to win all the ICC awards. But it takes Mahela Jayawardane to score a hundred at the World Cup final. It takes Mahela to muster up a draw at Lords, and it is he who you depend on to save you and then win you the game. And on the 2nd day's play, he proved that and a bit more.

Although Kumar is much like Sherlock, the star of the show and the best man around, Mahela is more than just a John H. Watson. On a day most others had written him off, due to his double ducks in Abu Dhabi, which probably symbolized both his lack of form and his injury, Mahela strolled out to bat with Sri Lanka in a bit of trouble, at 88/3. One may argue, that even if he had got out cheaply, the in form Mathews along with PJ and Kaushal would have got Sri Lanka a sufficient lead anyway.But Mahela doesn't usually leave things to the rest without giving it his all.
Mahela's smile is one through pain, criticism and courage,
much like his hundred.
On the innings, he may not have played as perfectly and majestically as we had seen him in the past, but this would classify as one of his greatest knocks, simply due to the personal battles he had to face up to. He'd been the passenger in the team that drew in Abu Dhabi, and with two ducks at the age of 36, attracted much of the critic attention. Mahela doesn't come under fire often, if at all ever, but when he does, his replies are wittier and more sour on the eyes of his critics than the total combined tweets of Warne, KP and Piers Morgan.

He was ably supported by Sri Lanka's latest spark on the field, Kaushal Silva, who proved yet again than Dilshan's retirement was timely as his peaking to form. Taking crucial catches, making important runs at the top, and being the voice in the field that once Dilshan was, Kaushal as already filled half the boots that the Dilscoop artist has left on the Test field. Let alone, Sri Lanka's test future, Kaushal has certainly further lifted the team in to a position from where they could command the game.

But as this series has gone, on the third day, Sri Lanka may still squander and falter and muster up only half the lead they may have planned over night. If not, we will once again see the declare dilemma that Mathews still looks like he needs to master, around the time of Tea. If Mahela can continue in his merry way, and if Mathews can repeat his magic at Abu Dhabi, and this and that and all the finest of permutations come together, Sri Lanka might leave the field on the 3rd evening with a first over seas win since Durban in 2012. Or Pakistan may just accidentally press on the hulk button.

While the 2nd day belonged to Mahela and Kaushal, an enthralling third day is ahead of us.

Catch you then.

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