Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene: Flair for runs
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo was made to look like a theatre of runs on Thursday by two stylish Sri Lankan batsmen. It was the second day of the third and final Test match between India and Sri Lanka. The two batsmen put together a partnership of 133 off 36.5 overs for the third wicket, effectively wiping out the Indian total of 234 and helping Sri Lanka surge forward.
Atapattu and Jayawardene danced down the track to tackle the spin bowling of Harbhajan Singh and Sairaj Bahutule. Runs kept flowing as both the batsmen punished the loose deliveries with ease. The running between the wickets was of top order as they picked runs by playing the ball to the wide-open spaces.
The spin bowlers were mastered and made to look ordinary. It will be prudent to remember that it is on the same pitch that Muttiah Muralitharan ruined the Indian first innings with a big haul of eight wickets on the first day. The medium pacers too looked ineffective as they kept bowling on either sides of the wicket.
Rather than brute strength, both the batsmen relied on timing and good use of their wrists to guide the ball through the gaps in the field. Atapattu played the flick through mid-wicket by dancing down the track to the spinners, a stroke that would have made even Mark Waugh proud. Jayawardene played the late cut to such perfection, leaving the off spinner Harbhajan Singh exasperated.
The pulls and cuts were unleashed along with glorious drives through the covers to take complete command over Indian bowling, which was clearly running out of ideas. The two batsmen brought up their hundred partnership in just 105 minutes. Atapattu got to his hundred and Jayawardene to his half century in the same over. The two batsmen really complimented each other.
Jayawardene took the risks and had a lucky escape in the middle when Sameer Dighe put down an easy catch, behind the stumps. Atapattu was a picture of confidence and was more assured of the two. Jayawardene had his spells of lack of concentration, but the presence of Atapattu in the middle steadied things in the middle.
Indian bowlers had given up and were more inclined on bowling a defensive line and length. They were hoping that the partnership would be broken somehow and it came about when umpire Dave Orchard from South Africa gave an outrageous decision. Atapattu was adjudged caught by Das off Harbhajan Singh; the bat was just too far away from the ball.
It is not the volume of runs they scored together, which makes it the Five Star Partnership; it is the manner in which those runs were scored. The flair and the elegance was a treat by itself to the eyes. Not too often do we get to see batting of such class and quality put together.