Source: Cricinfo.com

Sri Lanka outplayed India in all departments to lift the Micromax Cup and end India’s unbeaten run In ODI competitions in Sri Lanka, during which India, under MS Dhoni won 4 series (2 bilateral, 1 tri-series and Asia Cup). Sri Lanka were determined to break this run today and were thoroughly professional in their 74 run victory.

After winning an important toss, Sangakkara decided to bat first and Sri Lankan openers Jayawardene and Dilshan made sure that it was going to be one tough day for India, by putting up a wonderful 121 run stand. We all know that Dilshan can be just as devastating as Sehwag on his day. And it was his day as he smashed Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground on his way to a magnificent 110 of just 115 balls. Indian bowlers also played into his hands giving him too much width on a consistent basis. Sri Lanka needed 1 more batsman to support Dilshan and when Sangakkara also found his groove, they were well on their way to a big total. Sangakkara played a captain’s knock of 71(62 balls) and took Sri Lanka to a score of 299 in 50 overs, a score that was highly unlikely to be chased down in Dambulla under lights.

Though 299 was a huge total, the one good thing was that this pitch was the best of the tournament and there was much less help for the bowlers. And also the fact that India were playing 7 specialist batsmen in this match (bringing in Rohit Sharma in place of Ravindra Jadeja), the target was not beyond India’s reach If they batted well. Unfortunately, as things panned out, there was no batsman who kicked on to make a big score after making starts and Dhoni was left stranded in the end in a hopeless situation. Sehwag (28), Virat Kohli (37), Yuvraj Singh (26) and Raina (29) all fell after getting starts and India lost too many wickets too soon to be challenging for the total. Dhoni’s knock of 67* was in vain as he had no support from the other end. India were bowled out for 225 and lost the match comprehensively. Sri Lankan bowling was disciplined and fielding very efficient, a perfect combination while defending a big total.

I must mention one more thing: It was another poor performance by the umpires, this time Asad Rauf and Asoka De Silva the men in question. They got too many decisions wrong once again and the standard of Umpiring in the last few matches has been well below par.

Man-of-the-Match Award went to Dilshan for his sensational century.

Man-of-the-series Award went to Sehwag, India’s only shining light with the bat throughout the series. If not for Sehwag, India would not have won a single match in the series. He was head and shoulders above the rest, single handedly winning India 2 matches, which helped them reach the finals. Ironically, Sehwag also won Man-of-the-Series Award in the test series. So in all, it was a great tour of Sri Lanka for him.

Positives for India from the Series: Sehwag, Sehwag, Sehwag… Yes, there was no other positive really for India.

Sehwag has not quite been able to replicate his success in Test matches at ODI level consistently and thrown his wicket away on too many occasions in the past. So, his batting, which was much more responsible and the fact that he was willing to fight it out when the going was tough is a huge plus for India. A firing Sehwag at the top of the order will be the key in the World Cup.

Negatives for India from the Series: Performance of Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.

With Sachin and Gambhir rested from the series, it was chance for these guys to put in some good performances and stake their claim for potential World Cup Slots, just 6 months away. They just didn’t take their chance and though conditions were tough to bat at Dambulla, they didn’t show any fight and failed big time. Especially, this might be the end of the road for Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja as far as their World Cup ambitions is concerned. Rohit Sharma is just too casual and is wasting his immense talent, while Ravindra Jadeja is just not good enough at No 7, playing as an all-rounder. Dinesh Karthik, playing as an opener also failed to inspire any confidence, though he was given out few times to poor umpiring decisions, including today. Perhaps, the most worrying thing for India was another sub-standard performance form Yuvraj Singh. He just seems to have lost the motivation and confidence. One wonders if it is the same man who won India match after match in the past few years.

India has to desperately look at No 7 slot and give it a deep thought. The Pathan brothers (Yusuf and Irfan) should be ready for a recall and take the opportunity with both hands, when given the chance. Apart from that, India should start identifying their final 15 for the World Cup now and give them a decent run before the World Cup, starting from home series against Australia in October. Sachin, Gambhir, Zaheer and Bhajji should all be back now and resting players for the whole series should stop now.

Make no mistake, India, at full strength and with a good No 7 player would be difficult to beat at the World Cup.

Categories: General
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