Alarm bells ring
Last Sunday this column carried a story of the points being shared in the first test between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. During the week Sri Lanka lost all points in the second test match played in Wellington.

Most noticeably the weather and the pitch conditions changed. New Zealand adjusted well and Sri Lanka did not. When it comes to the home team, naturally, they must know all about their conditions. It is much harder for the visitors to adjust. But then, that is what international cricket is all about. To conquer the opposition in their own den; That is the hallmark of a good team. The great teams do it regularly, with consistency, giving no excuses for failure.

The toss mattered in this game. Marvan Atapattu lost it, which meant the task was going to be tougher. The batsmen had to dig deep, play more short back, lift strokes, leave more deliveries outside of stump, get the bowlers to bowl to a different tune where the ball could be worked around, to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Above all they needed to bat, to keep their wickets for five sessions. That would have given them three hundred runs and kept them in the game. Even 350 runs was achievable. There were many dismissals caught behind the stumps. With more controlled batting they could have been reduced.

The Black Caps capitalized. Martin and Franklin who were the best of their bowlers in the first test stood out again. Martin in particular gave a lesson on controlled seam and swing bowling.

Only Chaminda Vaas could match up to effective bowling of that nature. He had a marathon bowl and looked good all the time. In these conditions Malinga was ineffective. Maybe the batsmen had even worked him out. Young Mahroof was not up to it. He could not move the ball in the air or off the pitch consistently, neither could he put the ball in the right place regularly.

If Martin and Vaas were the object examples on how to bowl, then Lou Vincent produced the lessons on batting. Rarely was he beaten outside the off stump and he waited, using precise footwork to score off what was possible. The only way he could go was to be run out. It was a mature test innings. The New Zealand lower order batsmen must also be complimented. They stuck it out with Vincent as they moved from 294 for 6 wickets, to finish on 526, thus taking total control of the game.

Tillekaratne Dilshan played some sort of a one day innings, to be the only batsman to pass the fifty mark. Very disappointing, considering that the need was again to bat for five sessions. It was possible, with more application and determination. Again a number of batsmen were caught behind the stumps.

For Stephen Fleming and his team it must have been very satisfying to dismiss ten Sri Lankan batsmen without his three key bowlers, Jacob Oram, Darrel Tuffy and Daniel Vettori. A very credible feat. For Sri Lanka the alarm bells have rung. It is time to take note. Is there anyone out there who is interested?!


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