Sunday, December 18, 2011

Result comes as expected

Very rarely does a team comes out successful after winning the toss and choosing to field first. In most of the matches, any captain who wins the toss is seen taking the crease unlike what the South African captain - Graeme Smith has been seen doing. Whatever, as the saying "all is well that ends well" goes, South Africa as expected won the game by an innings and 81 runs which is something to be relished for a long time by the Proteas. Had the South African captain chosen to bat first, may be South Africa would not have had an innings win.

Had South Africa batted first, may be Graeme Smith might not have taken the courage to impose a follow-on on the Sri Lankan team which would have sealed all hopes of South Africa having an innings win. This has been seen in most of the games where even courageous captains think a million times before imposing a follow-on no matter how much the difference between both the teams is. The best example that I can cite is in the Sydney test 2003-04 where the then Indian captain - Sourav Ganguly decided to bat for the second time despite piling up 705 runs in the first innings.

India had a margin of close to 250 runs in the match against Australia which eventually ended in a draw when all hopes of an Indian win was alive. Coming back to the game between Sri Lanka and South Africa, my calculation for Sri Lanka should have seen them piling up atleast 689 runs to see some hopes in the game which eventually didn't happen, needless to be said. Forget about any mammoth total by the Sri Lankan batsmen, they could not even score the total of 180 runs which they managed in their first innings. The Sri Lankans were bundled out for 150 runs.

This was 30 runs less than what they could manage in their first innings. Anyone who goes through the scorecard would know that their top order failed miserably with the first major knock coming from the blades of Thilan Samaraweera who scored 32 runs to top the batting among Sri Lankan batsmen. There were four batsmen who scored over 30 runs in the first innings while the 2nd innings saw only one batsmen doing the same. The Sri Lankan debacle made hay for Vernon Philander who took ten wickets in his third test to see him get the man of the match.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

South Africa towards an innings victory?

This is at most of the times a common issue with the home team bundling up the opposition no matter by what margin they do it. And, this time South Africa were no different when they had Sri Lanka tumbling with a lag of 209 runs against the home team with one more wicket still to go. South Africa have in the recent past played some decent cricket with them outplaying India last year and then recently against Australia when they grabbed a 8 wicket win despite having been bowled out for 96 runs in the first innings. This was in Australia and not at home.

With the situation the South Africans are now in, it looks as though an innings win for them is high on the cards. There are three more days of play left in the game with Sri Lanka needing atleast 300 runs more than what the South Africans manage in the first innings in case they need to keep their hopes of saving the test alive. At present, with the South African scorecard reading 389 runs, assuming that they lose their last and final wicket with no more addition of runs, Sri Lanka as per calculation need atleast 689 runs to tame the hosts.

It is not an undisputed fact that a total of 689 is highly difficult though history has seen several such games where a team makes a surprise comeback after being shattered in the first innings. The best example for this would be the Kolkata test between India and Australia where Australia bundled out India for 171 only to see them lose the game after Steve Waugh imposed a follow-on. That match was famous for Laxman's 281 and Harbhajan Singh's Hat-trick. But, that test was played by India at home. Things cannot be assumed to be the same had the same been played away.

Similarly, I can recall Kamran Akmal and Asif Kamal spoiling India's party when they held the nerve in the Delhi test after India had taken a lead of 204 runs powered by Virender Sehwag's 173. The match that should have been won by India happened to end in a draw. Now, keeping in mind the batting line up of Sri Lanka, a miracle can be possible but with other factors also supporting the same. They have Mahela Jayawardane, Samaraweera, Sangakkara etc who can show some hopes with the bat. But, once again the problem lies in their bowling which can be self-destructing.