by Anura Guruge
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This the 2nd Test Match in the 2014 Sri Lanka v. Pakistan Test Series is supposed to be Mahela’s last Test match — though as we all know this could change, if the selectors, down the road, feel that his presence is imperative for a match or a series. But, for the time being this is considered to be his last.
There were farewells and guards of honor at the 1st Test Match, in Galle, as well — but this is the last and final match in the series. The Test just happened to have started on Pakistan Independence Day — supposedly the only time this has happened, i.e., Pakistan starting a Test on August 14. It, by coincidence, also happens to be the EXACT dates, i.e., August 14 – 18, as Don Bradman’s last Test — though I am slightly confused by this claim because I think in Don’s time, and well into the 1980s we used to have a rest day after the 4th day makings Tests six days long.
That the Pakistani team gave him an Honor Guard when he came into bat, first wicket down, was impressive and touching. This is a rather mellow Pakistani team — quite likeable. The American-style camaraderie that the ICC has insisted upon instilling on the cricket world is interesting — and I will leave it at that. I am more used to the ‘sledging’ days of the 1970s and 1980s. It is good. I also think that all the 20-over ‘IPL’ leagues have also made a difference. There is much more inter-country participation, within the same ‘IPL’ team, than was ever possible in the past. What still gets to me is the ‘glove tapping’ by the batsman after each decent stroke. Not convinced about the value of that at all. Seems a bit sissy to me!
Well another good Test match. We have been blessed. Some amazingly good cricket this year: WI v NZ, SL v SA and now this series. Around the 30 over mark I thought Sri Lanka would be looking at 600.
Pakistan needs a new keeper. Sarfraz Ahmed, to put it bluntly, is rubbish. I am a better keeper than he is and that really is saying something! I don’t care about unexpected bounce, a halfway competent keeper does NOT get smacked in the ear with a ball from a spinner. That was pathetic. And how many catches did he drop? 3. Not going for one, which he should have — counts. You can’t stand there, with gloves on, as if you are a pedestrian. I wondered what happened to Umar Akmal. I like him. My type of aggressive cricketer. I had to look him up. Very strange. He is on the skids! Wow. He had so much promise.
Well I have yet to see the Day 2 highlights. Kids are hogging the big TV right now. So I will have to wait.
But, if Pakistan lose this Test as well, they will have to contemplate THE ‘never wrong’ adage when it comes to cricket: catches win matches.