Shikhar Dhawan wasn’t included in the Test squad for Sri Lanka. However, his phenomenal run in Champions Trophy – he was the leading run-getter with 338 runs at 67.60 – kept him on the radar. He was included in the tour party once it emerged that M Vijay hadn’t completely recovered from his wrist surgery. Dhawan warmed up with 41 in the tour game. On the opening day of the series in Galle, he ran Sri Lanka’s attack ragged, smashing 190, 126 of those coming in the second session. Galle was also the venue of his previous Test century, in 2015.
Before the two, the pre-eminent spinners in the world were either wristspinners or fingerspinners with a bit of mystery about them. Fingerspinners without mystery were there just to tie one end up until the pitch started doing things for them. The most mystery these two have ever carried in their kitbags is the carrom ball, whose oldest known practitioner, without going as far back as Jack Iverson, is Herath and whose best proponent today, arguably, is Ashwin.
An 80-year-old man is drilling cover drives and pull shots in a way that makes him look like Don Bradman reincarnated. Tony Shillinglaw is a Bradman evangelist. About 30 years ago, the former Minor Counties cricketer started teaching himself how to bat like the boy from Bowral. “Here’s a man who was 66 per cent better than anyone who has played,” he said.
It is a long journey ahead for them. However, they can dream of finding help on their way, and that help needs to come from you. Will you show enough interest to influence the broadcasters to telecast matches? Or will you forget the tournament conveniently after getting ‘inspired’ and forget the tournament and this Lord’s near-miss entirely? That, Indian fans, is a choice you have to make. They will do their bit, perhaps more than you are aware of, but will you do this for them?
The next four hours are spent by the Marina, sipping beer — Patterson insists on having a milder, imported one — and sharing a massive snapper with some fried bammy. It is over these four hours, as we talk about everything from the heady heights of his cricketing career to the “dark days that were as dark as midnight” as he calls them, that you realise why the Caribbean and the cricketing universe doesn’t quite know what really happened to Patterson. For, even he has been struggling to make sense of it.
Harmanpreet was white hot. She was incendiary. She was flaming magnesium, the heart of a new star, a solid-fuel cocktail of audacity and skill, a comet tail of ice and fire burning up on re-entry. She was so fired up that she melted down, volcanically, mid-innings. So determined to succeed that she didn’t notice scoring a hundred. So consumed by her momentum that she forgot how to hesitate, much less be lost. When you’re aflame miles above a planetary surface, all that burns away.
It was an innings to remember. It reminded me of Virender Sehwag at his best and loftiest. I refer to India’s Harmanpreet Kaur’s hurricane 171 not out in the women’s World Cup semi-final against Australia at Derby, England. It was sensational as she belted 20 fours and seven sixes, her unbeaten 171 coming off 115 balls; her last 103 off only 40 balls at an amazing strike rate of 257.50.