So here we go again… It’s India versus (no need to guess) Sri Lanka in a must-win game. But wait, there’s a twist for a change. Both the team have come here with under-strength sides, and have had mixed results. The Lankans, though, are in a better position as compared to India as they still have a game against Zimbabwe left. And, hence it will be the Indians who will be under the pump during the crucial game.
They have beaten their Asian rivals comprehensively during the first exchange between the two sides in the series. But, the horrific stuff India dished out against the home side in not one but two games will make Lanka believe that they have a slight advantage going into the game. And, for the Indians to undo that, they first need to get their minds out of the muddle.
Cleary, they haven’t been thinking anywhere close to smartly. The bewilderment of their batting fiasco against the Zimbabweans will still be fresh in their minds. Only when they get over it will they be able to perform to their ability. For that to happen they need to stay and think positive.
This series has been a real test for young skipper Suresh Raina. One can only hope that he has learnt some strong lessons quickly, and would make lesser mistakes in the do-or-die encounter against the Lankans. While it was apt of him to point fingers at the inability of his openers to get the team going, it is only fair that he makes an effort to lead from the front.
True, his spectacular fielding makes a fair difference. However, it is not enough. He needs to be more active as a skipper too. His forgetful nature will not do India any good. It was nothing short of weird that he refused to take the batting powerplay during the winning effort against Lanka, and he literally forgot about the bowling powerplay as the Zimbabwean batsmen were massacring his bowlers.
Disappointing as it may sound, bowling was always going to be India’s Achilles Heel in this tournament. Ashok Dinda and Umesh Yadav have little to show apart from their IPL experience. And, the Zimbabwean batsmen have exploited their weaknesses to the hilt.
Even the comparatively pedigreed Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha haven’t been up to the mark. Unfortunately, there isn’t much option for India to chop and change either.
R Vinay Kumar has returned home injured, and the only other alternative the have is to try out Abhimanyu Mithun, himself a rookie, so no miracles should be expected. And so, the burden of shouldering the extra responsibility would once again be on spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan.
On the contrary, India has a much more experienced and talent batting line up. And their failure is what has been extremely disheartening. Except for Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, almost everyone has looked out of sync. Dinesh Karthik and Murli Vijay have failed to convert their starts.
As such, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test out Naman Ojha. Among the others, Raina is too busy figuring out his captaincy, which must change. Also, India will be served well if the big-hitting Pathan can get some runs. And, though Jadeja got a half-century in the last game, his confidence would be boosted if he can achieve it without the help of the umpires.
All in all, India have an unenviable task on hand. And, with none of the seniors around to guide them through, it would be rather fascinating to see how these young turks respond to the crisis situation.
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