All the talking and rumours and truth related to Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma have settled. Now is the time to put back our focus on the India-Sri Lanka ODI match.
After a drubbing at home, SL managed a better result in Test (they lost just 1 of three matches), before blanking the hosts by 7 wickets in the first ODI! The win not just ended their losing streak but has also given them confidence, so much that Suranga Lakmal– who starred with the ball—has said that they could have bowled out India for less than 50!!
Now that’s what a fan needed. We were bored of the one-sided affair that we were witnessing for some time now. But that has also given a headache.
With the prime man Virat Kohli rested, the series was supposed to be full of tests. Test of Rohit Sharma, test of middle order and test of character, and India failed. However the fans would be hoping that it was just another off-day when India take on Sri Lanka in Mohali on Wednesday for the second ODI.
Except for the oldest war horse MS Dhoni, no batsman could do well and fell like a cropper in a condition that suited the bowlers—a condition that they would be tested in again and again on the upcoming tours.
Eden Gardens showed that the batting was a worry on green surfaces while Dharamsala just confirmed that. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will have to do much better. They need to be a motivator for the youngsters in the team. Because of Kohli’s absence, the number 3 slot has added another problem for the batting line-up which already was searching for someone at 4.
Presently the Indian cricket’s hottest property, Hardik Pandya, didn’t do much. He looked rusty after a break from international cricket. He has still a lot to prove before he can be considered as the 3rd seamer that India used him as. He should have been more sensible with the bat as he has become the backbone of the team.
Despite too much of talking, Ajinkya Rahane might have to warm the bench once again. He is considered ideal to open the innings. With Rohit and Dhawan fit, it is tough to find that slot. His experience and few earlier instances of batting in middle order though makes him a contender but the Indian management, as we know, doesn’t like to experiment too much about the combination.
With very little to defend, Indian bowlers tried. They needed a third pacer on a pacer friendly wicket. Pandya looked rusty. Jasprit Bumrah knows how harmful the no-balls can be. He had done so in the Champions Trophy and did again in the last match. He needs to control that and control that as soon as possible because that’s the only flak that he receives. We had seen him bowling a no-ball even in the Super over.
Batsmen need to pull up their socks. A batting performance like the one in Dharamsala will boost the Proteas’ bowlers as Indian are next scheduled to play in South Africa and there’s very little time left now. Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey all survived for some time but lack of experience probably costed them. Karthik needs to take the responsibility if he has to be a horse of long race.
This was the win that the Islanders needed desperately. The win has boosted the confidence of a team which has been struggling so much that they have changed their skippers more than India has changed players. Thisara Perera captained the side and won his first match as the leader. Upul Tharanga scored 49 in the short target presented to them while Mathews and Dickwella also got the starts before they ran out of runs.
What that loss did to Rohit and to India was that it has put the focus away from the number 1 slot now. India cannot finish the year on top now. The next two matches have become a knockout for Indian team. They need to win both matches to win the series now.
What to expect
Another early start(1130hrs IST) to the day-night affair means the pitch will help pacers a bit early on. Mohali is not as cold as Dharamsala so the swing and struggles won’t last as long as it did in the mountains.
Though India or even Sri Lanka won’t like batting first in the second ODI but it would be interesting to see the Indian batsmen negotiate early condition and score if invited to bat first.
It’s a must win game for the hosts while a win would give an unexpected series to the visitors.