When India take on Sri Lanka in the tri-series game on Sunday, they would hope to push for a win and guarantee their place in the final. But things wouldn’t be all that easy in spite of their recent triumphs against Lanka. This is because Sri Lanka have been the best of the three teams in the tournament so far and their unbeaten record stands testimony to it. India, on the other hand, India have been horribly ragged, especially with the ball. Not that their batting performance has been especially great. In both the games they have been in deep trouble. If not for MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, they might well have ended up embarrassing themselves against Bangladesh after the loss to Sri Lanka.
Sadly, the toss has been a hugely influential factor in the series. And even the half-an-hour early start hasn’t it made much difference. In all the games, the team batting first has won and unless the trend changes, this tournament will end up being quite a farcical one. Having said that, Sri Lanka might try the experiment of bowling with the wet ball given a chance considering they are already through to the final. Ironically, it would also present India with their best chance of handing Lanka their first defeat of the tournament and securing their berth for the finals.
Whether they bat or bowl first, the fact remains that India’s bowling needs to show marked improvements. Zaheer Khan has been India’s bowling spearhead for a while now, but he certainly hasn’t been at his best since the start of the series against Lanka in India. Probably, he needs a break to recharge his batteries. It’s the opposite case with Ashish Nehra. Having made a strong comeback into the side and cementing has place as the second seamer, Nehra now has to prove his consistency. To be fair to the left-arm seamer, he hasn’t had the best of conditions to bowl. Still, a cricketer with his experience will be expected to do better. Harbhajan Singh’s inconsistency in recent times has been baffling, and a real cause for worry. One can’t predict what he will dish out on Sunday so better wait and watch.
Speaking of India’s batters, Kohli, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have been among the runs while Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina too have made useful contributions. One the one hand, India would want these men to continue firing and on the other hand will hope for the openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to explode in the manner we all know they can. That would solve a few problems for India.
Sri Lanka too would want their good batting form to continue. They would be boosted by the return of Tillakaratne Dilshan. Even in his absence, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera and Mahela Jayawardene came up with the goods (read centuries), which is a great sign for the side. Their bowling effort has been commendable as well with Chanaka Welegedara being especially potent while spinner Suraj Randiv is improving with every game.
With two well-matched sides, one can only hope and pray that the toss doesn’t end up hampering either team once again.
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