ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

A thriller in Adelaide

The Adelaide Cricket Ground has three famous characteristics. It is the one ground in the world that is of an absolute oval shape. In fact in the days gone by it was only known as the Adelaide Oval. Being of an oval shape means that the square boundaries are short and the straight boundaries long – A common sight has been to witness boundaries and six hits on the shorter side and batsmen running on the longer side.

Thirdly, it is reputed to be Australia’s best batting pitch and has been one of the best in the world for batsmen to display their strokes. That was not exactly the case when back to back games were played between Australia and India, then Sri Lanka and India. In the first game there was definitely a lot of assistance for the quicker bowlers and batting was made difficult. The Aussie players naturally are the best equipped to prosper in such conditions. Their score of just over two hundred did not seem enough, but in the end it was more than enough.

Sanga’s class the only redeeming factor.

It was the same pitch that was used for the second game when Sri Lanka met India. The greenness had almost disappeared and that helped batsmen. Still it wasn’t easy to carve strokes with ease. All three teams have pacemen who are bowling well. Australia are best served through Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark and Johnson. India have Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and new find Sharma. Sri Lanka’s pace campaign led by Chaminda Vaas, with Lasith Malinga and the ever improving Ishara Amarasinghe. Signs that the entire tournament may hardly see any scores over three hundred.

A run out at the bowlers end off a straight drive touching the bowlers hand and then hitting the stumps is a rear sight. That was how it began for the Sri Lankans when Sanath Jayasuriya perished in that fashion. In fact lightning struck twice that when the captain was also dismissed in the same manner!

Kumar Sangakkara’s well timed straight drive caused those dismissals! Strange as it was he must be complimented for his innings and overall stroke play and shot selection. Sangakkara is the one Sri Lankan player who thrives in Australian conditions. One particular reason is that he prefers back foot play in those pitches, gets behind and on top of the ball when he plays and therefore is well in control.

With two early wickets fallen Mahela Jayawardena had to find lost form and play according to the situation. The captain and vice captain played admirably and battled their way out of trouble until the unfortunate run out. It was here that Sri Lanka lost their way. Chamara Kapugedara was also run out and Chamara Silva who has not been amongst runs could not accelerate quickly enough. In the end the score of 238 was defendable but looked like twenty short.

Sri Lanka could not have asked for a better start, with Malinga producing an absolute beauty to Sachin Tendulkar. The ball moved just enough off the pitch to beat the master and clip the off stump. In fact the progress was very satisfactory in the opening ten overs. India at 35 for 3 wickets was not comfortably placed.

The fourth wicket which had it been got earlier would have put Sri Lanka in a very strong position did not come until the score had reached 99. Some of the early damage had been repaired and the pitch too, by this time, was playing pretty easy.

Yuvraj Singh made the difference. The south paw hadn’t got the opportunity to play a long innings up to this point of the tournament – here was the chance. He played good attacking strokes, getting his feet into position, hitting the ball into the gaps. The scoring rate was within what was required. At a crucial stage of the game the Indians decided to attack Mahroof and Jayasuriya and the move paid off.

After Yuvraj departed, Captain Dohni took charge. He knew one’s and two’s could win the game. His problem was that wickets kept falling. He kept his cool until victory was achieved.

It was a thrilling game in Adelaide. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka came second!

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