Then, Marvan Atapattu’s back gave before a Test series in England. And after innings of 61 and 119 salvaged the most improbable of Test draws at Lord’s – Sri Lanka batted 199 overs to save the game – Jayawardene hasn’t had the time or inclination to look back. He’s scored 13 more centuries since and now needs just 62 more to cross the 9000-run barrier. Given how the FTP isn’t very kind to Sri Lanka, that’s some achievement. Along the way, he’s scored 374 against South Africa and gone past 150 on six other occasions. After the years of moderation, the man’s become a run-glutton.
India’s tactics on day three were just mystifying. I have no quibbles with the bowling into the leg-stump rough, but what on Earth can you hope to achieve without a single close-in fielder apart from slip? The last time I checked, bored-out wasn’t one of the ways to dismiss a batsman. Gary Kirsten spoke on day two of how both he and Harbhajan were happy with the way he had bowled. If expectations really have dropped to such levels, then perhaps the panic button shouldn’t be too far away.
And just what is it with Ahmedabad and extreme ends of the pitch spectrum? A green top against South Africa, and now this surface, which Sunil Gavaskar referred to as a road? Is it really so difficult to find a middle path, to leave a smattering of grass on the surface so that the bowlers don’t feel demoralised even before they mark out their run?
After their first Test in India back in 1982, Sri Lanka haven’t come close to beating India away. This is their big chance, and with Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath in their ranks, you’ll get good odds on them closing the deal. For India, after a successful year of Tests, it’s time for navel-gazing. When one bowler’s coming back from injury, another’s in woeful form and the third hasn’t played first-class cricket since March, a four-man attack is a big gamble. Here, it’s failed miserably.