Dew factor could bowl for Sri Lanka

More than one have professed that the dew factor is going to be key in the 2011 version of the World Cup that got underway in the Indian sub-continent. The dew factor in the Indian sub-continent is no secret as it has been the decider of many a game played in this part of the region during the past decade or so.

Recently former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said, “The ‘dew factor’ will play a crucial role in the outcome of the day and night matches at the ICC World Cup 2011. Apart from the related strengths and weaknesses of the participating teams, I think the dew factor in day-and-night matches will decide results.”
Pakistan's World Cup-winning captain said any team batting second would have a huge advantage as the ball would keep on getting wet, the outfield wet and bowlers would find it hard to grip the ball.

He pointed out that in March and April, sub-continental pitches tended to be flatter in the day-and-night matches because of the warm weather. "And in these months I know by experience that the dew factor also becomes very important in the sub-continent," he added.

Lankans ready to face the dew factor

Imran also said that Sri Lanka won the final in Lahore in the 1996 World Cup because, "they chose to chase and ended up getting the advantage of heavy dew, making life very difficult for the Australian bowlers."

The organizers have scheduled 36 of the 49 World Cup matches as day-night fixtures in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The quarterfinals, semis and the final are all day-night matches. Like many others, Imran also picked India as favourites to win the title. "On current form, their team combination and the fact they are playing at home, I would say India start off as favourites," he said.

Imran saw India's Virender Sehwag and Yusuf Pathan as players who could make a big impact at the tournament. "They are the most powerful and clean hitters in the sport today. Plus they have wisely included a leg-spinner, Piyush Chawla, to partner Harbhajan Singh in the World Cup," he said, adding, "I have always believed that leg-spinners are essential in ODIs as they are attacking options and they take wickets," Imran told India’s ANI news agency.

Proving Imran wrong were the Indian themselves in their practice match against Australia in Bangalore last week. The Kangaroos faltered in the middle of their innings under lights. Batting under normal conditions India were out for 214, with fast bowlers taking more wickets even under Indian conditions.

Then Australia began their innings in grand style at one point perching at 108 for one, but once the young Indian leg spinner Piyush Chawla tore into the Australian top order, the rest of the pack folded up meekly… crashing to 175 all out.

The Lankan wickets on the other hand are still a well kept secret – so much so that even the home lads do not know what they would hold in them till the games proper are in motion. Yet, if the results of the West Indies practice game along with the local tournament matches which were played on the re-laid wickets at the R. Premadasa Stadium are any indicator, the side batting second should have some eyebrow cleaning under lights due to the dew factor.

The game against the West Indies played on the true wicket that was prepared especially for the World Cup proved to be wicket better than expected. The West Indies in their turn in the afternoon made 280+ and the Lankan chased it successfully with fifteen balls to spare. After the game Sangakkara was quoted as saying: “We were, anyway, going to bat second if we had won the toss. The wicket was much better than we expected. It had good bounce, enough turn and all in all was a good track to bat on even chasing."

Sri Lanka on their part have the most balanced bowling attack to contend with a wicket of this nature and three of the crucial games in the first round will be played at the Premadasa wicket. The games against Canada (which will be played today), Zimbabwe (at Pallekelle) and against New Zealand (in India) will be played at other venues. Yet the most crucial matches -- against Australia and Pakistan -- which will be played at the Premadasa Stadium. The third Premadasa game will be against Kenya.

Sri Lanka does have the armoury to battle on this ground. If the Lankan batting should hold together and 270+ scores batting first and the side batting second would have to huff and puff a lot to bring the house down. The Lankan cricketers are confident of guarding their totals if they do get respectable ones. T.M. Dilshan who himself is a respectable spinner said recently at a press conference that the Lankan bowling attack is a composition that could unite to limit any opposition for less than 250 runs. We believe in him as when the World Cup proper begins match pressure in far greater than while playing a practice game of no consequence.

In Lankan seam bowling, Nuwan Kulasekera is billed to be the top factor on the slow Lankan tops. Kulasekera’s lack of pace and the slowness of the Lankan wickets could turn out to be hard grind for the opposing batsmen, especially like Shane Watson who prefers the ball coming on to the bat and play on the front foot.

Besides Kulasekera, I bet even Thisara Perera would be hands full as he too is not express, but has the knack to bowl in the right spots that make opponents’ batting that much more arduous.
Besides that, Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka main artillery at this year’s tournament does have his variations that contain the deadly Yorker, the slower ball, the slow bouncer and even the slow full toss which he very effectively uses.

The only difference between web designer Muralitharan and Shylock is that Muralitharan has built more houses for the poor than the mythical Italian. If not as the legend says both won’t give anything away that easily while at play.

Muralitharan assisted by Mendis, Dilshan and Herat can slow any opposition down in the middle and make the job of scoring runs a problem to their opponents on any given occasion. But, with the dew factor on their side while playing at home the Lankan attack do make their dance in the dew in the first round.

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