It was supposed to be a match where the giants collared the dwarfs and now the latter can do just one thing, unleash the final blow, after taking a stranglehold of the three-Test cricket series although it is more about Australia unable to face slow spinning bowlers than Sri Lanka ‘beating the better team’.
The Australians, by their lackluster showing in the first two Test matches, have acknowledged that they are aliens in a strange land unable to have done battle against what was purported to be a band of stragglers who only a few weeks ago were nursing the bruises from a battering in England.
For Sri Lankan cricket followers, nothing can be more satisfying and rewarding than consigning Australia’s glitzy players to the dumps. But behind this demolition are hidden backstage faces that articulately plotted the destruction of the Australians who know the pitch at the venue for the third and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club will not offer a walk in the park.
Purists may argue that host teams where cricket is played thrive on the luxury to fix and call the shots of home-made pitches, but to players in the business, it is all fair-game in an age when only winning matters even at the expense of the image of those who maintain a points system that separate the best from the worst.
Australia captain Steven Smith is well aware that another minefield pitch may be the name of the game as Sri Lanka aims to make unprecedented history of a 3-0 series sweep.
It may never happen again and Sri Lanka’s failure to produce the knock-out blow could only prove that they won the series only because Australia were victims of a psychological mindset.
Australia, in all fairness, may never have wanted to become the number one team in the traditional format of the game without proving their batsmen were masters against both pace and spin bowling. They could be asking themselves whether they were simply a pawn in the hands of the think-tanks in the International Cricket Council (ICC) who have drawn up a ranking system to keep interest afloat in the wake of fans and followers of the game now converting and turning to the swashbuckling version of limited overs cricket boosted further by the colours of T20 cricket.
“The majority of pitches that we play in Australia are pretty true. You don’t often see too many (balls) spinning past the bat or go straight. We have to find ways of playing spin differently here (in Sri Lanka)”, was how Smith laid his cards on the table after his team were embarrassingly unable to take the match even one hour after the lunch interval on the third day of the five-day contest even disappointing Sri Lankan fans who would have wanted the home team to pocket a hard-earned result and not anything on a platter.
Smith’s counterpart Angelo Mathews will be the first to spare a thought for his opponents. “The pitch (in Galle) was getting worse and worse and when you play in these extreme conditions you got to find ways of getting runs. Australia look lost when it comes to playing our spinners,” said Mathews.