SPORT

Ishant displayed heart and commitment

S. Dinakar

Colombo: Ishant Sharma needs to be wrapped in wool from time to time and preserved for the future. The workload of this exciting fast bowler will have to be managed judiciously.

Under the lights at the Premadasa Stadium on Saturday, Ishant shone bright. Importantly, he bowled the ideal fullish length for the sub-continental pitches. And he varied his pace. The ease with which Ishant is maturing augurs well for the days ahead.

There is more to his bowling these days than those big, pacy off-cutters. He is learning to use his height and the width of the crease.

Extra height enables a paceman to extract bounce. It can also — if the bowler has a high-arm action as Ishant does — make it hard for the batsman to pick the trajectory of a full length ball.

Dangerous customer

This is precisely why Ishant can be dangerous with his yorkers, reverse swing or not. His toe-crushers demand a quick response from the batsman.

Ishant’s rhythmic run-up and a smooth release are enhanced by a wonderful wrist and seam position. He can hit the deck as well as get the ball to swing. And encouraging signs are visible in his bowling.

The delivery that consumed Chamara Kapugedera was not just the one that straightened. It actually moved away from the right-hander.

If Ishant can deliver the away-going ball consistently, it will add a new dimension to his bowling. With Zaheer Khan having an off-day, Ishant displayed heart and commitment. His bowling was the difference between the sides.

Not happy

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was still not entirely pleased. Dhoni has a charming smile but is a hard task-master. He does not want his men to rest on their laurels.

The Indian team leads the five-match Wealthsurance series 2-0 yet Dhoni seeks improvements. He was not particularly happy with the Indian bowling in the middle and the batting Power Play overs.

“If you are running from the bowling mark, you need to have decided that this is the delivery you are going to bowl. And you need to place your fielder accordingly. If you are in two minds, you cannot execute your plans,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s batting Power Play, taken in the 42nd over, fetched the side 48 runs.

Dhoni elaborated on the consistency factor. “If you want to bowl a bouncer, you do not need a long-off and a long-on. And if you want to bowl a slower one, you don’t need a third man. You can have a deep mid-wicket instead.”

Dhoni said the bowler needed to be given first preference when it came to field placings.

He quickly added, “If they don’t bowl to the field, then the captain becomes the king. But then, they need to grow and evolve themselves. You cannot spoon-feed them.”

The Indian skipper is flexible with his methods. Under the lights on Saturday, it was Praveen Kumar who opened with Zaheer.

Said Dhoni, “Praveen is a swing bowler and the best opportunity for him to pick wickets is with the new ball.”

Dhoni admitted that he lost his cool during the middle-overs when India could not consolidate on the early gains and towards the end of the innings when the bowling was not as disciplined as he wanted it to be.

“In international cricket, when there is pressure on you, you cannot be cool,” said the cricketer known for his equanimity.

The Indian captain mulled over a couple of run-outs.

Ordinary umpiring

The Indians have also been victims of some ordinary umpiring. Sachin Tendulkar has been wrongly adjudged leg-before in both the matches and Yuvraj Singh suffered in the second game.

While a battling half-century was a return to form of sorts for Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene, he was upset that his dismissal came at the wrong time.

Pat for Kandamby

Jayawardene was all praise for Thilana Kandamby, a fluent left-hander.

“He (Kandamby) showed courage. He did not panic in the middle. It was an amazing knock and I should have stayed a little longer. I tried something different. It got a bit too much for Kandamby in the end,” said Jayawardene.

Positive

Kandamby, whose unbeaten 93 was a largely cultured knock, is a positive for the Lankans. He displayed a sound temperament under intense pressure and his shot-selection was good. While Kandamby has been a revelation, the seniors have not put their hands up.

Recommended for you