Thursday, 16 January 2014

With apologies and hope

Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test. Day 1. Sharjah

Test matches shouldn't end on Saturdays. Well, technically its the players and the pitch that decide in how many days a certain game would end so, to be precise, Test cricket matches shouldn't be "scheduled" to end on Saturdays. Not because it's the middle of the weekend, or because Sunday is probably everyone's preferred day to go watch cricket or anything. Because I'm usually busy on Saturday nights and Sunday morning just don't occur around here. Just Sunday nights. Which means a match that I wrote on for 3 or 4 days ends without me being able to write about the final day and the result. So, my apologies about that.

Looking back at the win, it was fairly obvious by the end of the 3rd day that Sri Lanka were too far ahead for Pakistan to catch up. Once Pakistan were bowled out for 165 and a lead of 200+ was mounted up on them, a 3rd innings score of at least 500 was needed to make a competitive 4th innings chase. The 130 odd was easily knocked over by Kaushal and Dimuth which ended what was a well eared victory for the Lankans, with almost everyone contributing. But a win here and a win there won't prove anything about the calibre of this team. There have been Sri Lankan teams of the past which have defeated South Africa away and England at home, both when the said teams were the world's #1 team. Pakistan is no world #1, but if they can win twice against them, it would add a bit of consistency to a Sri Lankan team that has thus far been as consistent as the rolling of a dice on a Sri Lankan Casino craps table. Or the Sri Lankan Casino act it self. Take your pick.

And already, the hunt for consistency has begun. And already, questions about the consistency of Sri Lanka's middle order can be raised. Dimuth Karunaratne is probably Sri Lanka's most consistent batsman of the series. Scores of 30s in almost every innings he has batted. Not that it should impress anyone, but enough to keep his place. His second innings score on this track, could well tilt the balance between the two sides. Kaushal failed for the first time in the series, perhaps, and therefore can be excused. Sanga and Mahela played them selves to good starts, but on a pitch that looks to have a ball with your name on from the first day it self, their near 50 scores might have been enough of a foundation. Angelo and PJ are once again the overnight batsmen and they will want to capitalize on their starts to push Sri Lanka towards "300", but if they don't, and get bowled out for 240, tonight Sri Lanka might have to "dine in hell". And Chandimal will be dropped for Thirimanne in the next series if he doesn't get an 80+ in the second innings. Madness? Madness?? This.Is.Sport-a.

Dimuth Karunaratne's level of consistency with the 30s is surely unmatched.
But if wants to impress anyone, he should probably get a 100.
There actually isn't much to write about the day's play. The slowness of the pitch indicated that it was probably curated by an ex-SLT ADSL agent. The bounce seems to be fair for now, but as the game goes on the slips will need to be a little aware of it than usual. Hawkeye may also need to do so as well. PJ's LBW looked pretty plumb. I reserve my comments on the DRS, as to me it's fairly obvious that it's a much better judge of a decision than an on field umpire, so even if it is not 100% accurate all the time, why should you scrap it all together in the first place and resort to the word of a retired, old human being, just because he wears a white hat.

The morning session on the 2nd day will be crucial for Sri Lanka, more so than Pakistan, as this is their last recognized batting pair. The pitch looks slow and it has already taken turn, and if rain doesn't intervene, a result looks obvious. But as cricket has shown its fans time and time again, a pitch should not be judged until both teams have batten on it. So we wait.

And so we hope.

PS: A note about Dilruwan Perera's selection over Sachithra. To quote the old guy from Indiana Jones; "You chose POORLY!". Even if he gets 8 wickets in the match; "You chose POORLY!". Even if he becomes the man of the match, "YOU CHOSE POORLY!". I don't need anyone to agree with me, but if you want to know where my opinion comes from, check his age on espncricinfo player profiles.

Catcha after the end of day's play,


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