India look heavenwards

India look heavenwards

“It’s fantastic that we are getting a result even after losing one whole day’s play, but it is bad for the Indian side,” the Indian vice-captain told newsmen, “because we are on the losing side unless MS and VVS Laxman can play long tomorrow. We are hoping that after lunch or before tea, the rain will come and the match gets washed out.”

Sounding a more optimistic note, he went on, “I think we can save this match. In our last Test against South Africa, both MS and VVS scored unbeaten hundreds and batted really well. Laxman and Dravid did that against Australia in 2001, so we have hope. We have one more pair of batsmen left, they will go tomorrow and try their best.

“We have to bat as long as we can. We don’t want to lose this Test match. Everybody was positive and looking to bat the full day if we could. Credit goes to Sri Lanka also, they bowled well and they forced us to follow on.”

Sehwag admitted that the century stand between Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga on Tuesday had hurt the Indians badly. “It was a very much critical part of the match because they added 100 runs, and that makes a big difference. If you cut down the 100 runs, maybe if they had scored 420, we would not have been forced to follow on. But it happens in Test cricket when bowlers get tired after 100 overs, then tailenders come in and they start hitting them around. That’s part o the game.”

Sehwag differed with suggestions that sighting Malinga in fading light was a problem. “No one was complaining,” he pointed out. “We were complaining about bad light, not about Malinga’s action. We are used to playing against Malinga; we have played him in the IPL and one-day cricket, so I don’t think sighting him is a problem. It is difficult to face Malinga, but it is not difficult to pick him.”

Muttiah Muralitharan drew generous praise from India’s centurion. “He is as special now as he has always been. He is the most difficult bowler I have ever faced and he is still difficult to face because you don’t know which ball is going which way. You can’t plan against Muralitharan, you can’t decide which ball you will leave and which one you will play, whether to be aggressive or defensive. That’s why he is a great bowler and is finishing on a good note.”

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