'Sangakkara opening the innings was baffling'

Written by: Arjuna Ranatunga
Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2005, 14:05 [IST]
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Sri Lanka could feel better from whatever they could get out of the Chennai cricket Test. They limited India to their lowest total ever against them and then batted serenely till the end. There was some useful practice for key players but I am baffled by a particularly annoying decision.

I cannot see the logic of asking Kumara Sangakkara to open the innings. He has been good at number three for a number of years as has been the case with Marvan Atapattu as an opener. It was also my complaint when they played the One-dayers. It is difficult to work out the logic.

Atapattu is good enough to take on the likes of Irfan Pathan and Sangakkara needs time and space after he has done his glovework. I only hope there is something which has escaped my attention.

Chaminda Vaas made his mark in the Test and I liked the way he understood the conditions. He was trying to bowl slower than usual and on a slowish, low surface, the only option left for batsmen was to score runs straight down the ground.

That the keeper was standing up, did not allow the batsmen to venture out of their crease. Same was with Murali who was impressive and dished up his variety with cunning and control. Most of his stuff was handled by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar and these two, I reckon, play him the best among all Indian batsmen.

I was particularly keen to see how V V S Laxman plays Murali in Tests. He did not stay long though but it is a situation I look forward to in the next Test.

Laxman, despite his failure, is a proven Test performer and neither he, nor his fans or selectors, need to be despondent. It has been some months since he has appeared for India on the field and much has happened in Indian cricket since those stormy days in Zimbabwe.

India surely would have loved to spend a longer time at the crease but the pitch, under covers for many days, kept terrifyingly low. Chennai was a wrong choice to begin with given the weather conditions at this time of the year and now that the usual noise has begun to emanate on Delhi, as well as the change of venue to Ahmedabad, it would appear that the administrators are doing their bit to generate excitement of their own.

It is indeed strange to see a change in venue when the touring party is already in the third day of the first Test!

Let us just hope that cricket served by the two teams would still make it a reason to celebrate a series, which has taken a few years in coming. There are enough reasons for it to happen as a few of game's modern superstars adorn the two ranks.

Tendulkars, Sehwags and Dravids, Muralis and Vaas are reasons enough to hook on to the game. And we are not counting Harbhajans and Kumbles; Pathans and Dhonis; or Sangakkaras and Jayawardenes.

Sri Lanka, if I can offer an advice, should look to win the Tests rather than earn honourable draws. The experience of Chennai should serve them well in the next two Tests. The memory of Ahmedabad is another, which should perk them up since they won the only game of the disastrous One-day series at this venue in western India.

From a Sri Lankan point of view, we would also be keen to see how the youngsters fare in the remainder of the series. We just cannot ignore the rebuilding process, or not to widen the pool. Let us hope the remaining two weeks could throw a couple of young talents who would be stars of the future.

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