Friday, August 04, 2006

Memories of the 574 run Jayasuriya-Mahanama effort

That rare feat was started on this day 9 years back. Last week Mahela Jayawardene and Kumara Sangakarra usurped the most coveted team batting record of all from their senior compatriots Jayasuriya and Mahanama. The latter duo had stitched together a 576 run 2nd wicket patience-tester in the 1st Test versus India in 1997 at the Premadasa. It was the highest partnership for any wicket in Test cricket at the time, a record Kumara and Mahela bettered by 48 runs.

I recall having appeared for a professional entrance examination on the 4th and 5th of August, 1997. Those were also the 3rd and 4th days of "Jayasuriya's Test". I went into the exam hall on Monday (Aug 4th) in a happy frame of mind, secure with the knowledge of India declaring at 537 on a batting beauty and Sri Lanka losing their first wicket at 39 on the last ball of 2nd day. I came out late in the afternoon and headed for the nearest paan (betel nut) shop.

I was expecting news of Indian ascendancy but instead learnt that it was way past tea and yet no Sri Lankan wicket had fallen. Next day I came out of the exam hall at the same time, and got the same news. No wickets yet. Something was wrong with the paan shop, maybe. Luckily for me I never found myself in its vicinity again with an India match on.

The longest wait by any Indian fielding side for a wicket finally ended on Wednesday morning when Mahanama thankfully decided to relent. [It is another matter that Sri Lanka batted on for the whole day with the sole aim of getting a world record Test score of 952.] Two whole days and six no-rain sessions of Test cricket were played out by Sanath and Roshan without getting dismissed.

I wonder if that has ever happened...we may have other partnerships lasting over 12 hours but those are generally comprised of a full day and two partial days. That Jayasuriya-Mahanama lullaby might well be the only one that spanned two whole days of uninterrupted cricket. Their runs may have been overwhelmed but that unique feat may take some doing.

A look at performances of Indian bowlers in that match will tell its own story:

Chauhan 78 ovrs, 8 mdns, 276 runs, 1 wkt
Kumble 72 ovrs, 7 mdns, 223 runs, 1 wkt
Kulkarni 70 ovrs, 12 mdns, 195 runs, 1 wkt
(And to think Kulkarni's wicket came off the very 1st ball he bowled in the innings, which was also the 1st delivery of his Test career)

I know a lot of people will back me in the assertion that Indian fans of the time would be happy whenever their entire team would surpass the figure in Chauhan's runs column in an overseas Test innings.

Any guesses how I fared with that exam?

Afterthought: The Jayasuriya-Mahanama partnership was just 9 years old when it got overwhelmed by Kumara and Mahela an there's some relief in that. The new recordholders know the previous holders and have also played with them. That sounds so different from Sehwag-Dravid's near-successful assault on compatriots Mankad-Roy's highest opening partnership record earlier this year at Lahore. On that occasion Sehwag faced ire from old timers after his innocent declaration that he never heard of two gentlemen by the names of Pankaj Roy and Vinoo Mankad.
Sri Lankan authorities must have watched the Sehwag episode with consternation. However they failed to realise that the pitfalls associated with a 50 year generation gap do not apply to a mere 9 year old record. Consequently they overdid their attempt to prevent similar embarassment: they ended up inviting Sanath Jayasuriya (still a teammate of the new record holders) and Roshan Mahanama to the dais for official 'handing over' of their record during a never-ending prize distribution ceremony. The duration of that event should have been another record if someone would care to note.


Anonymous said...

What was the outcome of your exam Angshu?

angshu said...

I fared as well as those Indian bowlers..