India vs Sri Lanka: Centuries of non-violence from Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay at Kotla
Sri Lanka is in transition, youngsters need some time, feels Roy Dias
Team is in ‘transition’, needs some time: Sri Lankan legend Roy Dias
A FEW puzzled faces greeted Lakshan Sandakan in the dressing room during the tea interval. The Sri Lankan coach and the support staff implored why the left-arm wrist spinner was not employing the wrong ’uns more frequently. Later in the evening, it was a series of wrong ’uns that gave Sri Lanka something to cheer about at the end of the first day’s play.
Off the penultimate delivery in his 21st over, Sandakan slipped in a wrong ‘un to nail Murali Vijay. It was perhaps the first instance in the day’s play when the ball had done enough to beat the bat. The Indian opener, who was batting on 155, did not see it coming. Playing down the wrong line, Vijay was stumped by Niroshan Dickwella.
Buoyed by Vijay’s scalp, Sandakan delivered yet another wrong ’un — this time to Ajinkya Rahane. Bowled much wider, it drew India’s No.5 batsman out of the crease and left him stranded. Suddenly, against the run of play, the Lankans had prised out four Indian scalps.
“I was surprised why he did not bowl them (wrong ’uns) more because he has good control over them and most importantly, he conceals them well, which is why the two Indian batsmen failed to pick it. At the tea interval, we had a chat with him on this issue,” Sri Lanka’s assistant coach Rumesh Ratnanayake said.
A genuine wicket-taker
Sri Lanka had included Sandakan for this match in the absence of Rangana Herath, who was out with a back injury. Despite his relative inexperience at this level (he had featured in only seven Tests so far), the team management saw the 26-year-old as a genuine wicket-taking option, as being a left-arm wrist spinner made him unpredictable and also added an element of intrigue. Sandakan has all these traits in abundance, but he showcased them only in the final session of the day. Till then, he looked largely one-dimensional in approach, allowing both Vijay and Virat Kohli to score runs at will. The wrong ’uns were surprisingly banished. Instead, he opted for an ultra-defensive approach, and struck to bowling his stock delivery — the chinaman — which turns into the right-handers. Bowling from a predominantly over the wicket line, he was also guilty of dropping far too short. “As a spinner, I thought he should have done things differently and not allowed the game to drift so drastically. I also felt that he should have changed his lines and bowled from round the wicket,” Ratnanayake added.
In the afternoon session, the Vijay-Kohli stand had taken catastrophic proportions for the visitors. Runs came in a deluge. Sandakan’s partner, off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, too remained largely ineffective. With hardly any assistance from the surface, he was exorbitant in his returns, leaking 97 runs from 21 overs. The only bright spot in Perera’s mundane outing on Saturday was when he dismissed Shikhar Dhawan in the first session.
The opener’s wicket was his 100th Test scalp. The manner in which the Lankan spinners operated on Saturday showed how the team felt Herath’s absence. Despite the four wickets, Sri Lanka have conceded at least 70 runs more than what they would have liked and Sandakan’s twin blows were the only crumbs of comfort for Chandimal’s team on another torrid day at the office.
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