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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Honours even - Mumbai first day

Picture Courtesy: Cricinfo Site

For once, Sangakkara called it right and got a chance to bat first on a track that many suggested was true. The 3-spinner strategy was changed to a 5-bowler one. Kulasekara was the bowler called back in place of Mendis. India had the forced change of Vijay in place of Gambhir.

The first session was completely Sri Lanka's. The opening pair started off in the fashion that would have done Sehwag and Gambhir proud. The initial swing that the bowlers got, were negated with ease. Runs started to flow so quickly that Sreesanth was taken off the attack and Harbhajan brought in. With his introduction, the scoring rate reduced from over five.

Dilshan started off where he left in the first test - playing his natural game while waiting for the bad balls. His good year continued and he was determined to stay for a long time at the wicket to give the advantage of the toss won. The batsmen around him started falling off, after a good start. Sangakkara has shown that his captaincy is not good for his batting - he fell early once again. So, did Mahela Jayawardene. It was a combination of good tight bowling at both ends that did the trick.

With all respect to Matthews, the sight of him coming to the crease would have given a lot of hope to the Indian bowlers. But Matthews did not let his reputation drag his performance down. He gave good support to Dilshan first and set about repairing the innings with the help of Prasanna Jayawardene. Runs started to flow when edges went to third-man area, making the bowlers despair. Kulasekara also joined the fun at the end of the day. The new ball did not seem to make much of an impact initially but the Indians managed to take wickets.

Harbhajan and Sreesanth bowled probing spells in the first 2 sessions that got them wickets as well as reduced the run-flow. Runs were conceded in the third session when the bowlers tired a bit. Bhajji would have been thrilled with his success after a long time. Ojha played a decent supporting cast to ensure the pressure was on Sri Lanka. The pitch was helpful only if you adhered to the basic rules of line and length. Zaheer Khan was guilty of not doing it and went for runs. The Indians were slightly better than the Lankan bowlers on the first day of the second test - probably the captaincy of MS Dhoni was better. A Sehwag on this pitch would have been an option worth trying.

The Indians did well to peg back the Lankans after the initial flyer of a start. But, the Lankans have more than 360 on the board. If the Indians can take the remaining wickets quickly on the morrow, the batsmen can then give a solid reply. The match will be interestingly poised in the next day or two.

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