The key to get it right
The first test between Sri Lanka and New Zealand ended under three days and a total of thirty five wickets fell during that period of time. The two questions to ask are: a) was the pitch that difficult to bat on? b) Was the bowling so unplayable that batsmen succumbed?
|So far in the two match series Kumar Sangakkara has shown both Sri Lanka and New Zealand batsmen as how they should bat on seaming Kiwi wickets with back to back centuries.
One player provided the answers to both questions is Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara. He went in at number three in the second innings and was there at the end undefeated on 100. The score was eighteen when he stepped onto the turf at Christchurch, as the Sri Lankans caved into be all out for 170. While Sangakkara was not out in the middle a total of 152 runs were scored. He made a hundred whilst the other nine combined contributed fifty two!
The pitch was suitable for seam bowling. There was adequate moisture on it to make the ball jog around. Muttiah Muralitharan was able to dismiss seven batsmen, so he too would have no complaints about the pitch.
What does dismiss most batsman on pitches that assist bowlers, is the uncertainty that is caused in the batsman’s mind. Often players are looking for terrors that do not exist on the surface. This leads to incorrect decisions being made resulting in the wrong choice of stroke.
None of the Sri Lankan batsmen could notch a half century in the first innings. New Zealand seemed to be heading the same way until Daniel Vettori came in at number eight and smashed sixty three runs. Earlier Chamara Kapugedara (37), Upul Tharanga (33), Craig Cumming (43), Mathew Sinclair (36), Stephen Flemming (46), got starts did the initial work and then got out.
Two factors to remember when playing on bowler friendly pitches is firstly, there is never a moment when you can “drop your guard”. Never can a batsman think that he is set and he can take a few chances. No, each ball must be watched off the bowlers palm, in the air, off the pitch and then played on its merit.
Secondly, a batsman must be prepared to get beaten, play and miss, get hit on the body, be battered and bruised when confronting a difficult pitch. In short, to be tough, is essential. Forget the previous delivery and get on with the next one, should be the approach. Any batsman feels the pressure when playing in such a situation.
Kumar Sangakkara got it right all the way. With wickets falling regularly he had to keep establishing a partnership with another partner so often. Also, shielding the lower order players, so he could get as much of the strike. He had so much to contend with and what made happen was the very fierce concentration on the job at hand.
The eyes were glued onto that red ball. The message transmitted from brain to body was precise. Each ball was played on its merit and so his innings proposed prospered from strength to strength. Yes, nothing deterred his concentration. The key to that brilliant innings was the unwavering concentration. In fact a great deal of the value of that innings got diluted. One reason was that Sri Lanka lost the game. Naturally in a team sport the performers of the winning team collect all the accolades. Then, the bizarre manner in which Muralitharan got run out also stole the headlines, plus the story of the match.
New Zealand’s captain Flemming had this to say about Sangakkara: “He’s a quality batsman and has got a sound technique. I rate him as one of the best in the world. He shows no fears while batting and is a very dangerous customer.”