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Thursday, November 19, 2009

India start their fight for survival - 4th Day at Motera 2009

The SriLankan team started the day with a big lead and were determined to make it a huge one. Both the Jayawardene's started milking the bowling and the fours continued. It was quite strange to see the number of boundaries that were hit even on the fourth day. Without any risk-taking, the batsmen could score at a fair clip. The lead very quickly jumped to 300. The Indians had given up all hope of taking wickets - they were waiting for the Lankans to throw their wicket - which they didnt do. A world-record partnership (72-year-old world record for the highest sixth-wicket partnership in Tests was broken by the duo) shows the hunger of the two Jayawardenes - they wanted to ensure that the Srilankans do not bat again in the test match.

The bowlers were very tired by the end of the Srilankan innings and were very relieved that Sangakkara chose to declare - there was virtually no way they could get any wicket of SriLanka otherwise. It is high time the selectors think of the value Harbhajan is able to bring to the team and decide the road ahead - after Anil Kumble's retirement, the off-spinner was expected to don the mantle of the leading spinner. But, it has not happened so far. A stint in the Ranjis will do him a lot of good.

They declared the innings 334 ahead of the Indians - now, the Indian team had to bat the remaining 5 sessions to ensure that MS Dhoni's unbeaten run in test matches as captain continue. They have done it earlier this year and have the capability to repeat it. Will they actually do it?

Sehwag and Gambhir started as though they would clear the deficit by the end of Day 4 and give Sri Lanka a target to chase in the last 2 sessions. They were scoring at a fair clip till Sehwag decided to throw it away after scoring his fifty. He suffers bouts of impatience when slow bowlers bowl to him and this became his undoing once again. He just could not resist the temptation to launch every ball into horizon.

Rahul Dravid played well for his 38 before getting out to Welegedara again - in fact, it looked very close and he could consider himself unfortunate to be given out. Another good innings with an above-average strike-rate for Dravid. Gautam Gambhir had played an innings of almost 11 hours in NewZealand earlier this year - hence, he knows how the survival can be done. He did not waste any opportunity to score (going at a strike-rate of little more than 60).

On the final day, India need to play out 90 overs from Murali, Herath and the opening bowlers on a pitch that did not seem to have worne out too much. The odd ball was spinning and keeping low but the Indian batsmen knew that patience and shot-selection was very essential to go to the next test undefeated.

The session-win status is still very much in favor of Srilanka - the session-difference shows clearly the number of sessions that the Indians need to play well on the final day and draw the match. Another 144 runs separate the two teams, which should make the last day intriguing.

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