Another run feast on the cards at Nagpur

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

indian-cricket-team-at-nagpurAs if the run glutton at Rajkot wasn’t enough, the Nagpur ODI is likely to be another nightmare for the bowlers from both sides. The only silver lining for the poor bowlers is that one can’t expect another 400 plus score from both sides, but, in all probability, it will be another high-scoring encounter nonetheless. India managed to escape by the scruff of their neck at Rajkot despite posting a mammoth 414 on the board. Still, a win is a win and they would thus go in as slight favourites to clinch the Nagpur ODI. The Lankans on the other hand would be keen to put the disappointment of the ‘so near yet so far’ loss behind them and start afresh in the day-night game.

Sadly for the visitors, they will be handicapped by the loss of ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who missed the opening one-dayer, and pacer Dilhara Fernando. Both of them have been ruled out of the series which means Sri Lanka will be forced field some rookies in this crucial match. That said they would do well to exhibit some faith in the other spinner in the side, Ajantha Mendis. Agreed, he has been a shadow of the sensation that spun world cricket upside down last year, but the team managed needs to show faith in him and back his ability to deliver. Furthermore, the Lankans would be praying for the eccentric Lasith Malinga to be fit for the game as his return would add some much-needed teeth to the visitors’ bowling line-up even on benign Indian pitches.

Rajkot may have been a batsman’s paradise. Still, one has to accept that there was some sensational display from both sides. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar set the tone for the ODI series with a blistering opening salvo, while MS Dhoni delivered the backup punch with such alacrity that the Lankan bowlers were made to look absolutely prosaic.

However, if one thought India had done enough to seal the deal, it was a not to be. What Indians did well, Sri Lanka did equally well, even better at the start to be honest. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga matched Sehwag and Tendulkar stroke for stroke and went on to outdo them. The skipper Kumar Sangakkara then joined in the fun and cleared the fence with such unhurried ease that the target looked well within reach. Bizarre as it may sound, one has got to say that the Lankans should have achieved the target rather easily considering the position they were in at the end of 35 overs. But, the pressure got to them and eventually they let India get out of jail.

While the batters will head into Nagpur high on confidence, the same cannot be said about the bowlers. The pacers from both sides were slammed for plenty and the spinners only did slightly better, Harbhajan Singh being the sole exception. He was the best bowler on display from either side. Additionally, the fielding performance of both sides is also a major worry, with catches being dropped left, right and centre. And with another run feast on the cards, the Nagpur tussle might well be decided on the basis of which side bowls and fields better.

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