Updated: October 7, 2016 5:07:40 pm
On Day 1 of the third and final Test, just 15 overs were bowled, of which 50 runs got scored. For most part of the day it rained. The action on field was too short to pass judgements or predict the future course of this series-deciding Test. But still, after the frustrating wait for the downpour to subside and feeling bad for the hard-working groundsmen, who kept covering and uncovering central square, the fans would have gone home with a sense of anticipation. For there was a big bright spot, about 22 yards long, on this gloomy day. Those 15 overs showed that the relaid SSC pitch wasn’t what it used to be. As the regular followers of Sri Lankan cricket will tell you, this is good news for the bowlers around the world.
In case someone wasn’t aware about the Sri Lankan board digging up the central square at SSC, they would have surprised when Angleo Mathews decided to field first. Since the WG Grace era, teams prefer to bat first in Test matches. At SSC, it is a no-brainer. But no longer. Mathew’s ‘bowl first’ decision was justified by his strike bowler Dhamika Prasad in the first over, when he dismissed KL Rahul with the ball that snaked in and hit the top of off-stump. Rahane too didn’t lost long while skipper Virat Kohli was dropped twice. The bowlers were making the ball talk, the batsmen were tentative and the wicket-keeper was collecting the ball at chest level. Test cricket is the game’s highest hurdle and SSC is witnessing that.
In the four days to follow, in case rains don’t play spoilsport, a keen contest between the bat and ball is expected.
Cricket has a habit of turning its back to the groundsmen, especially those thankless custodian of the 22 yards. All through this series, the men with dirty overhauls and dirtier hands have delivered by giving level-playing field to the batsmen and bowler. At SSC they have done the impossible. Our Men of the Series are the groundsmen.
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