Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj was unable to make any mark in the first session. He went wicketless in his first 10 overs on the first day of the second Test against South Africa at Colombo.
To make matter worse he didn’t have spin partner Tabraiz Shamsi to give him support. The visitors decided to play an extra batsman to counter the Sri Lankan bowling attack.
So, it turned up when things looked quite bleak for his team that Maharaj provided the much-needed breakthroughs and instigated a stunning collapse in the final session.
Promising Maharaj finished the day with exceptional figures of eight for 116 which hogged the limelight. It was indeed a historic spell especially given the fact that the chips were down for the visiting side.
Despite his heroics, Maharaj was not willing to rejoice the glory of his eight-for.
“Accolades mean a lot more when you can get the team to win a Test match. So, hopefully, in the second innings, I can put in another performance and be on the winning end of it,” Maharaj said after the conclusion of day’s play.
Mahara was fatigued after day one:
“I’m a little bit fatigued, but I should wake up fresh tomorrow after having a lovely meal tonight – probably two meals. It’s different bowling longer spells in the subcontinent to what you’re used to backing home. Heat plays a massive factor here. There’s a lot of pressure from around you. I was a bit fatigued at the end of my spell,” Maharaj added.
There is no doubt about the fact that he would have been tired following the day’s play. He bowled 25 overs spell on the bounce and it was indeed an achievement on a scorching day at SSC.
Moreover, Maharaj refused to comment on whether the presence of Shamsi would have reduced his workload. Maharaj stated that he was not there to pick the side.
I am not here for selection says, Maharaj:
“I’m not here to get involved in selection. I’m here to bowl my overs and play my best. South Africa is used to bowling one spinner even back home. So I’m used to doing the holding job, and I’d like to think I did it decently today,” he maintained.
“I did get a little bit of assistance off the wicket. It is a little bit different here than in Galle because of the ball skids on here. There’s a chance of getting lbws and also the top-edge when the batsman sweeps. I’d like to think I also beat some of the batsmen in the air, with the ball dipping on them,” Maharaj admitted.
“It wasn’t the nick-off balls or lbws that got batsmen out that passed the fifty mark. It was the sweep that came into play and things like that. I think there is a lot for the batters if you get in. A lot of people would have said ‘Oh, you’ve lost the toss and you’re on the back foot’, but I don’t think so. We’ve gone at 3.2 in the whole game, and I think that’s quite a good run rate to have in the subcontinent. A lot of people score a lot quicker here. I think we’ve controlled the aspect that we have control over,” Maharaj remarked.
Maharaj hails Dimuth Karunratne for his terrific performance in the series
Meanwhile, Maharaj hailed the performance of Dimuth Karunratne in the series so far. The southpaw outscored South Africa in both the innings in the previous Test. He carried on his form and scored yet another fifty.
The bowler heaped praises on him and said he was one guy who played within the plan of his game.
“Dimuth (Karunaratne) was the one guy who played within his game plan – he showed that in the first Test – and he carried that into the second Test as well. He also praised the likes of Dhananjaya de Silva and Danushka Gunathilaka.
“I think Karunaratne, Dhananjaya (de Silva) and (Danushka) Gunathilaka showed the application that the batsmen need to take,” he added, hinting that survival out there in the middle wasn’t impossible, as yet, if one was willing to dig in.
Keshav Maharaj credits the usual protocol for his success
“I’ve always prepared the same for every Test match. I think it was written in the stars by God that things worked out this way. In these last few days, I’ve pushed extremely hard just to keep that rhythm going from the second innings of the last Test match,” he asserted.
“I know that for me personally, I like to be zoned out before a Test, bowling with just Hendo (Claude Henderson, the spin coach) and Prasanna (the computer analyst) after hours as well, so I think that’s aided my performance,” he further added.
“On wickets that are generally slow like the subcontinent wickets, it’s important that the ball stays harder for longer to get that bounce and turn. When it gets softer, it gives the batsman a little more time to adjust his shots, so the period between 55 and 75 or 80 overs, you saw that the ball was a little bit easier to score off simply because it wasn’t biting much off the wicket, and you didn’t get the bounce that you would get off the new ball,” he said.
Sri Lanka ended the day’s play on 277 for nine. The final pair of Akila Dananjaya and Rangana Herath are currently at the crease. Maharaj will definitely look to take the 9th wicket today.