last month, sri lanka were set a massive 507 to win the second test match of their tour of australia. one man nearly took them there. after the abject surrender of his batsmen in the first innings, the indian captain will be more than happy if someone stood up and did a kumara sangakkara for him. and then some.
with two days to bat on a fourth innings wicket that isn't doing much and against an attack without the services of a world-class spinner, a target of 499 is gettable. that's assuming the indian batsmen - dravid and yuvraj, in particular - can exorcise the demons from their mind and put their heads down to the task on hand; ball by ball. session by session. day by day.
given that kumara sangakkara almost got the lankans to 500 with little by way of support from the other frontline batsmen, ponting can't have a very high opinion of these indian batsmen. and why should he? so far, they haven't given him any reason to. despite a pitch that's more south asian than australian in temperament, the indians capitulated for a paltry 196 in the first innings. despite an inspirational performance from their captain, which helped dismiss the australians for their lowest first innings total in over a year, the indian batsmen were unable to take a leaf out his book and rise to the occasion. despite, for once, winning the first day of a test match abroad, the indians meekly surrendered the initiative. no wonder ponting declared the innings as early as he did.
left with eight difficult overs to negotiate before the close of play, the indian openers - especially rahul dravid - did so with greater assurance than anything seen from them in the first innings. if they can continue in a similar vein and get through the first hour tomorrow, ponting might well be faced with a tricky situation on the fifth day.
in dravid, laxman and sachin, the indians have three men who are quite capable of emulating sangakkara's hobart heroics. better still, the three of them won't need to do quite as much for their team to snatch an incredible victory. they'll just have to make sure they all come to the party. especially dravid.