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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Herath turns the tide - defeats India ... do you remember when India failed to score 120

At  Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, in Test no. 2169 in July 2015,  Pak had to chase a mammoth 377 in the last innings,  but won that Test comfortably with 7 wickets with Younis Khan making unbeaten 171 and opener Shan Masood making 125.   This man was jettisoned for the third Test and there were  more than whispers about his retirement.   Before that, not many of us can identify this showy fast bowler who played 19 tests and took 53 wickets !

But ….   ..even before the Test started, Kohli was rated high, higher than Dhoni and Press hailed his strategy of 5 bowlers.  In the 2nd he opened with Ashwin and 4 year later comeback man Amit Mishra – things appeared all in control for most part of the match – at one stage it appeared as if the match would be over by day 2 – only Chandimal and later Herath thought otherwise.   The  manner of India’s defeat showcased old frailties and perhaps offers support for Dhoni’s more conservative brand of leadership in Test cricket for which he has been heavily criticised.

India traditionally have fared badly in Lanka, their only Test Series win coming in 1993 season with that win in Test no. 1228 at Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo when India won by 235 runs.  Sachin Tendulkar and Sidhu made centuries in 2nd innings with Manoj Prabhakar making 95.  Vinod Kambli had made a century in 1st essay.

At Galle, India had a massive lead of 192 but came back strongly.  Sri Lanka 183 (Mathews 64, Chandimal 59, Ashwin 6-46) and 367 (Chandimal 162, Mubarak 49, Thirimanne 44, Ashwin 4-114) beat India 375 (Dhawan 134, Kohli 103, Saha 60, Kaushal 5-40) and 112 (Herath 7-48, Kaushal 3-47) by 63 runs.

Dropped in the last match and lacking the bite in the first innings,  Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath  put more body into the ball, bowled hardly a bad ball in 21 overs, went past Bishan Bedi to become the third-most successful left-arm spinner in Test history, and registered the second-best figures in Galle.  For the team which could not defend 377, this is amazing.  India needed 153 to win with nine wickets in hand at the start of the day, but Rangana Herath and Tharindu Kaushal bowled them out to complete a sensational win.

Herath now has 270 test wickets in 61 tests, the third-most for any left-arm spinner after Daniel Vettori (362) and Derek Underwood (297). Herath went past Bishan Bedi (266) during his seven-wicket haul in the fourth innings of this Test. He has taken 5W in an innings 22 times and 10 in a test four times. 

In Test No. 1363 at Kensington Oval, Barbados in March 1997 – an Indian line up of VVS Laxman, Sidhu, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Azharuddin, Mongia, Kumble ….. fizzled out chasing 120, making paltry 81.  Ambrose took 3; Ian Bishop 4 and the little known Franklyn Rose took 3/19.  Rose  enjoyed a meteoric Test debut against India taking 6 for 100 in his  first innings, but  his next 18 Tests produced just one more five-wicket haul - 7 for 84 at Durban.

The long rope of Rohit Sharma is alarming and we do not call ourselves strong middle order, if we are to fail time and again !!!  -  in the Test, Ajinkya Rahane created a World record feat taking 8 catches in a Test.  Indians have not exactly been great fielders barring elite few.  There have been individuals like Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali, S Venkatraghavan, Brijesh Patel – who excelled in those days.   Way back,  a man who played only 4 tests,  was the joint holder of two World records – and it was achieved in his debut test  Yajuvindra Singh got an opportunity to play  England at Bangalore in 1976-77 to strengthen the middle-order batting; he opened the bowling too.  In the first innings, he took five catches to equal the record held by Australia's Vic Richardson against South Africa in 1935-36. In the second he held two more and this saw him equal the record held by Richardson's grandson Greg Chappell who took seven catches against England in 1974-75.

It was Test no. 794, the 4th test of that Series played at Bangalore on 28th Jan 1977.  In the first, Yajuvindra caught, Dennis Amiss, Keith Fletcher, Derek Randall, Tony Greig and Derek Underwood.  Chasing an improbable 318, England were all out for 177 losing by 140 runs – a big margin.  In the 2nd Bishan Singh Bedi had figures of 21.3-4-71-6.  Yajuvindra  opened the attack in the 1st innings and bowled a solitary over.  In the 2nd, Singh, took 2 catches – sending out Amiss off Ghavri and Fletcher off Chandrasekhar.  Yajuvindra’s career however faded away – he played 3 more tests.  In that Oval Test in Aug 1979 (when Venkat was unceremoniously sacked)  when India made an epic chase and Gavaskar made 221, he made 43* in first innings.  He returned to play the Chepauk Test no. 855 against visiting Aussies led by Kim Hughes.  He made 109 runs in 7 innings. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Aug 2015.

Rose photo credit : cricinfo.com

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