PSS Colombo, Sri Lanka: India has a target of 257 runs to reach. Not a mammoth total to overcome. But, considering the pitch favoring bowlers, anything above 250 was competitive. Considering India already have lost 3 top-order batsmen, the target appears imposing. Specially, after losing their hero, Sehwag. Will there be another hero on-the-spot in the Indian team filled with Cricket Icons!!
Sehwag, continuing his bad performances in the 2nd innings, got out without scoring. His 5th occasion (of 11 nulls) when he got out in 2nd inning without scoring a run. Ironically, trapping Sehwag for the third time in the series, debutant Randiv playing his 2nd test has turned a nemesis for Sehwag. The debutant has got Sehwag thrice in three innings of India. Nobody was surprised when Sangakkara, the SL skipper, introduced Randiv to bowl the 2nd over of the match. The trick worked immediately as Randiv got his man on the 2nd delivery bowled to him. His celebration told that he was confident of getting Sehwag.
Will You Put Your Money on India
Now, India must win to equalise the series. Tendulkar is batting already on 11 runs. Another batting great Laxman will follow. The new Test star Suresh Raina, the daunting Dhoni are in queue. Even Mithun has done a good job in the series with bat. It is just a matter of another 207 runs to score in one complete day with 7 more wickets in hand. But, will you put your money on Indian win?
Probably, only the die-hard fans considering the past record of India when they have always failed to fight the odds and in fact folded in a hurry, crumbling under pressure.
The Super Heroes Are Waiting
Tendulkar has scored 347 runs in this series so far. With one double century and and one 50, he is the man in form. The world knows nothing is impossible as long as he is there. But, can he make this day famous for another of his many heroics!! Even if he does manage it, he would need a partner.
Laxman has also been in form, scoring 176 runs in 4 innings. Yet, he has never appeared decisive. At the most, he can be a good support. That leaves the onus on others to do the key job.
Raina has scored 182 runs in just 2 innings, with a century and a half century. Even a half-century in the 2nd inning will threaten SL and put them in backfoot. But, he is yet to be tested in the trying conditions which India is in. He is yet to bat in 2nd innings too. In limited overs he has proved his value for a long time. TIme for him to snatch the position forever from Yuvraj.
Dhoni, the captain-cool, has gone really cold. He can score runs, yet he is no more a match winner with bat, at least in a Test match. If he decides to prove his worth in Test, there would not be a better day than the 5th day of this 3rd test, where he can captain his team from the front. The chase is a small target. But, conditions are tough. If Dhoni can score runs, at least he will not run out of partners with his tailenders Mithun and Mishra being in good form with bat. Yet, it is doubtful that he can be the hero. He has just manage to score 128 runs in 4 innings with one half century, although the series has been played in batsmen’s paradise.
Who Can be the New Hero!!
The final hope lies on Tendulkar and Raina, with Laxman and Dhoni expected to at least hold their wickets.
On the other hand, there are many contenders from Sri Lankan team who can use the opportunity to be the hero. Randiv is leading the pack. He has already taken 4 wickets in first innings and all 3 wickets of the 2nd innings of India.
The SL bowling looks murderous now, to say the least. Without any help from pitch they have already bowled out India four times in the series. With a turning pitch they can achieve the feat for the 5th time to seal the series 2-0. Welegedara is not successful in the series. But, Malinga, Randiv and Mendis appear a lethal trio.
Mendis is yet to bowl in the 2nd innings. When he bowls on the 5th day, he can easily add to the 6 wickets he has taken in the 2 innings he has bowled so far in the series.
Contest Lies Between Raina and Randiv
While Tendulkar, Laxman and Dhoni can come handy, India’s main hope lie on the man-in-form, Suresh Raina. Even for Sri Lanka, although with Sehwag gone, they must be counting the eggs already. Yet, randiv will be the key man to get them the win, or better to say, save them from a loss. The 2 Ms – Malinga and Mendis can be his good partner in the crime against Indian middle and lower order on the final day.
Randiv has already grabbed the first 3 wickets of the 2nd innings of India, taking his tally to 9 wickets in just his 3rd Test innings. He is the leading wicket-taker of the series now. Sri Lanka has alraedy got so many heroes in the series. Probably, Randiv will be the man for tomorrow.