A series for the batters

29 Dec 2009 by Mahendra Prasad in India Sri Lanka ODI Series 2009

indian-teamOkay, India won the series 3-1 following the abandoned encounter at Delhi. However, the batters from both sides dominated the series. If Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli starred for India, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara were in explosive form for the Lankans.

The bowlers from both sides, experienced and inexperienced, were at the receiving end. As such, if there was one factor that decided the fate of the series, it was the inability of the weak Lankan middle-order to capitalize on the great starts provided by the trio mentioned above.

Except for Mahela Jayawardene, they did not have much when it came to experience in the middle-order. Thilina Kandamby showed some spark when India visited Sri Lanka earlier in the year, but on this tour his deficiencies were clearly exposed.

In fact, he will be remembered more for his innumerable fielding lapses during the series more than anything else. Then, there is Chamara Kapugedara, who has been retaining his place in the side for reasons unknown.

He hasn’t registered a decent score in a while and it’s about time the Lankan selectors tell him to shape up for ship out. Among the others, Thilan Samaraweera is still finding his feet as an ODI batsman, while Sanath Jayasuriya has looked anything but comfortable while batting down the order. And so, Jayawardene’s failure proved all the more critical for the visitors.

Despite being on the losing side, it was great to see Dilshan in full flow. 2009 has been his watershed year and he can only get better from here on. The drives on the up, cuts, pulls and of course the Dilscoop have made him as devastating a batsman as Sehwag.

Like Dishan, Tharanga too was in ballistic form. He had lost his way after a sensational start to his career, but this series should set things right for him once again. And about Sangakkara, one can’t be effusive enough in praise of his batsmanship. The effortless ease with which he cleared the boundaries throughout series was in stark contrast to the power play on demonstration by Dilshan, yet equally effective.

However, if the Lankan trio was explosive, India were even more deadly. Sehwag carried his murderous form from the Tests into the ODIs and gave India some enthralling starts. And when Sehwag failed, Tendulkar was there to hold fort. Gambhir only made one major contribution in the series, but it was perhaps the most significant of all. Further, this series could end up being the turning point in rookie Kohli’s career. Prior to the series, he was not able to convert the 50s into bigger scores. But at Kolkata, in the company of Gambhir, he achieved it in an impressive manner, and more importantly under pressure.

In the other departments, it has to be said that India were the slightly better of the two bowling sides, while Lanka took the honours when it came to fielding, despite not being at their best. At the end of the day, however, their overall failure as a batting unit sealed their fate.

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