At the half way mark, the match is evenly poised…At the beginning of the day, Rahul Dravid, who won the toss probably thought 250 would be a good score to restrict Sri Lanka to. After 50 overs, SL ended up making 254. At the 30 over mark, Sri Lanka were 123/4 and it looked like India were on top. But a brilliant partnership between Dilshan and Silva, followed by some good hitting by Arnold and Vaas saw the Sri Lankans get back into the game.
Early on, the Indian seamers bowled well, while the batsmen played and missed regularly without finding the edge even once. There were quite a few close LBW decisions, that were just not given.
As far as the batting went, Jayasurya was uncomfortable from the very beginning. He survived two very close LBW shouts (which hawk eye showed as hitting the stumps), before being caught by Agarkar at 3rd man of the bowling of Zaheer Khan.
The second wicket to fall was that of Jaywardane, who flicked a bad ball from Agarkar, only to be caught by a Dhoni diving to his left. Sangakara was threatening to play another long innings when Munaf took a wonderful catch of Ganguly. Tendulkar then set up Tharanga beautifully to get him out LBW.
Silva scored the third consecutive fifty of the tournament. Picking up the wicket of either Silva or Dilshan early would have made all the difference to the final total. India couldn’t and the pair controlled the overs beautifully, picking up singles regularly, rotating the strike and hitting the odd boundary to propel the score towards the 250 mark. When Dilshan departed caught behind by Dhoni of Munaf, for 38 – the pair had added 83 runs of 13 overs. Silva followed Dilshan back to the pavilion without adding anything more to the total.
Vaas and Arnold then added 38 runs in 23 balls to take the score to 254.
Positives and negatives for India
- Power plays: India bowled the power plays really well – with the 2nd and 3rd each conceding just 17 runs. A big positive.
- Too many extras: They bowled 14 wides and 2 no balls. Not only did this add 16 runs to the total, they had to bowl 16 extra deliveries as well.
- Bowling of Munaf: He bowled a tight length through out. He was primarily responsible for slowing the run rate during the 2nd and 3rd power plays. The negative in his bowling was the last over which conceded 16 runs.
- Bowling of Tendulkar: It was a big positive. He not only tied the batsmen down by bowling slow seamers, he also took the wicket of Tharanga. The small negative was his last over, which went for 11 runs. Maybe he was bowled one over too many.
- Bowling of Agarkar: After all the debate over whether Pathan should replace him in the XI, he bowled reasonably well to finish with figures of 8-1-33-1. A positive in my opinion.
- Bowling of Harbhajan: Being the primary full time spinner in the team, you would expect better figures than 10-0-53-0. Not only did he concede too many runs, he just didn’t trouble the batsmen. I am just curious why Sehwag wasn’t given a bowl.
Although, I said the game is evenly poised, I think India will win – if it plays to its potential.