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Monday, December 12, 2005 

India in front

India can wrap this up by lunch on Day 5 if Kumble and Harbhajan can do the damage in the 4th innings. This Test has been an interesting one - played on a slow, low pitch that would normally suit Sri Lanka's spinners. However, Lanka is not the team it once was with a bunch of spinning all rounders. Therefore Murali had to do the damage, and he did it with 7 wickets in the first innings. Sachin got his 35th century - which was fantastic more so because it got the monkey off his back. He was trying too hard to get there and it showed against Pakistan at home, but hopefully this will spur him on to kick in and play more aggressively. Murali's wonky hand prised out the rest of the batting order cheaply - if his doosra to get rid of Dhoni is legal, I am Sir Don Bradman! I thought they were 100 runs short, but the wicket was not the best to bat on.

When SL batted, a champion bowler in these conditions came to the fore. Kumble is the best bowler in Indian conditions, ever! He knows exactly how to bowl on these pitches, and his 6 wickets got India a valuable lead of 60 runs - which India built upon in the 2nd innings thanks to Pathan! Chappell's biggest contribution so far has to be Pathan's emergence as an all-rounder. He has been given chances to express himself with the bat, and has passed admirably. His 93 really dampened SL spirits, and with a lead of close to 300, India seem to be sitting pretty. Even Murali was exhausted at the end of it all.

Some other asides from this Test so far:
* Saurav Dada Ganguly seems to be intent on winning his place back, and proving his billion detractors wrong. That is great news for Indian cricket. A disciplined Ganguly can add value. I have written here before that he is a better ODI batsman than in the Tests - I still think Ganguly should have played the ODIs first, and then carried his form (if he was successful) to the Test arena. His real test will come when we have Shoaib and Flintoff steaming in - but so far his approach has been good.
* Dravid, India's best No. 3 batsman ever, has opened in this Test, and then came in at 5 in the 2nd innings. While this is great for flexibility and stuff like that, too much of that is also not good. Dravid should (and will) return to and stay at No. 3, now that we have Gambhir and Sehwag as a reasonably settled opening pair. There was a time some years back when Dravid should have opened - and he didn't then. Now is the time to build upon existing strengths, and Dravid at 3 and Sachin at 4 is India's biggest asset.
* What's with the crappy commentary? The Sri Lankans suck, and Arun Lal, Srinath and Siva are no better. This has to be the worst commentary ever on Indian telly!

These commentators go on and on mouthing absolute crap and never realise they're boring everyone to death!

I swear - it is a lot better to just mute the TV and watch.

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