Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Unfamiliar territory

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, 1st Day, 2nd Test. Dubai 

Gryffindor doesn't always win the Quidditch Cup. The rabbit doesn't always get out of the Red Queen's maze alive. Hobbits don't often "simply walk in to Mordor." Sri Lankan fast bowlers don't often bowl out oppositions for less than 200 on the first day.

Nor do they hunt in packs. Or stick to a line and a length for long, consistent periods. They hardly ever build pressure from either end, without the aid of a spinner. This is indeed unfamiliar territory for Sri Lankan cricket fans. But territory they would love to get used to.

But it was such a day. It was such a pitch. Unfamiliar. Where most, along with the fingers-crossed Abdul Rehman and Sachithra Senanayake, thought it would be a square turner, either team opted for three pacemen. Winning the toss, Angelo decided to bowl first. In hindsight, it looked as if the decision was made, not because Sri Lanka's pace attack was potent enough to make early in roads using the conditions and the pale green tinge on the track, but more likely because such advantage could not be risked in to the hands of Junaid Khan and Bilawal Bhatti. The Ranga-duo along with Sirasa Pradeep could not have proven that predicament more wrong. Mathews went from foolish Nasser Hussain at the Gabba, to genius who ever it was, on a green top in Durban or Old Trafford.

Last week in Abu Dhabi, for the first time in a long time, Sri Lanka were put on the front seat by the collaboration of it's pacemen. Now they've made it two in two. They nicked off 7 for 80 on the 3rd morning in Abu Dhabi, and they've bettered those figures by taking 9 for 90 in Dubai.

You don't really know how many times you have to look at the scorecard before you believe this sort of thing. Or how many times it needs to be repetitively iterated, in a hundred different ways, in a sort of literal way of pinching your self, to let it really sink in. Like the effect of Professor Umbridge's punishment quill. "Umbridge's quill effect" should be a thing. It probably already is a thing.

Sri Lanka actually have a capable pace attack that can turn games around.
And it's happened not once, but twice!

These good days don't come often. And a Sri Lankan fan would know that they won't last long either. Sri Lanka are the equivalant of Manchester United under David Moyes. One day they are beating the table toppers, the next they are drawing games that they should have won against mid table teams, and on another they are getting out played by the bottom dwellers. Sri Lanka need to make hay while the sun shines. Literally.

Sanga and Kaushal have been provided the golden opportunity to get Sri Lanka a big lead. They both have their eye in. And if they can see off the morning dew, when the sun shines, the hay making shall merrily begin. Sanga doesn't usually miss out on such hands. And specially with Mahela having split the webbing after his wife gave birth, it will be up to Sanga along with the Chandimals, PJs and the re-born Mathews, to make the unfamiliar ground that they were lead on to by the pacies, a one of their own.

Sri Lanka, though, are mercurial. But so are Pakistan. Whether which or either of those are good or bad, is yet to be determined. And thus, a compelling second day's cricket awaits.

Until then,

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