The second match of the Micromax Cup in Zimbabwe between India and Sri Lanka has a lot to offer. Although the rivalry between the two sides has been intense, so much so that the players must be tired of seeing each other’s faces again and again, yet the contest promises to be entertaining.
Primarily, it is because India lost to Zimbabwe in the first match of the tournament, causing the tournament to be wide open. On the other hand, Sri Lanka would find this a perfect opportunity to make a winning start to their campaign, which could give them confidence to win more as the tournament progresses.
India needed to hit back. Pressure was intense on Suresh Raina, the stand-in captain. However, on a windy day and a slow pitch in Bulawayo, he won the toss and elected to field first. His Sri Lankan counterpart, Tillakratne Dilshan knows the conditions perhaps better than any other foreign cricketer playing in this tournament.
It is because he made his debut at the same venue back in 1999. He too got carried away about what happened at the toss and miraculously for India, Sri Lanka faltered. Upul Tharanga, Dilshan’s opening partner, got run out as early as the second over.
Sri Lanka further struggled with their captain playing a Test-match innings, and forgetting that he was playing an ODI. Dilshan seems to have lost his Midas touch that he possessed in 2009, despite scoring a more-or-less responsible 61, until he was also run-out as well.
Thilan Samaraweera, batting at No.3, also played an uncharacteristic shot, getting himself stumped for just 19 runs. Angelo Matthews batted extremely well in a tough situation at No.4, slamming 75 runs of 95 runs. He was the only bright spark of the Sri Lankan innings which suffered largely due to lack of partnerships, which meant Matthews wasn’t given any support at all.
Thissira Perera tried to up the ante with his 32 runs scored of just 23 balls. However, it was too late for Sri Lanka as they could manage a paltry 242 all out with one ball to spare in the innings.
India did everything right. Their bowling was outstanding in the powerplay overs, a rare sight indeed! Even their fielding could be called ‘decent’ enough with two run-outs in the entire innings.
Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja have yet again proved how their bowling can be crucial to India’s success in this format. However, India had to chase 243, which was not easy considering the Sri Lankan bowling attack having some experience.
India’s openers needed to start well, as the pitch was slowing down. Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay weren’t amongst the runs recently and thus to win it for India was an uphill task for them.
At 47/2 in the 10th over with both of them gone, it was huge pressure. It was then that the centurion of the last match, Rohit Sharma walked in to bat with Virat Kohli at the other end. And it was a counter-attack that would last long in every person’s memory who watched the match.
Kohli has a fascination for Sri Lanka and yet again he proved his increasing maturity with a fine 92-ball 82, with just four boundaries. His batting was outstanding considering how well he could find the gaps in a tight field set by Dilshan for his spinners to attack.
Kohli, the vice-captain on this tour, in fact helped Sharma get his second hundred on the trot, as it was he who looked to tear apart the opposition. Rohit Sharma has been in top form since the IPL this year.
His experience is what Raina has been banking on so far and he has repaid his faith by steering India to a comfortable win of 7 wickets with 7 overs to spare! Looking at the public displeasure in India after the defeat to Zimbabwe, this win was crucial in appeasing them and Raina too, who as captain has to face the heat the most.
Rohit Sharma was the man-of-the-match undoubtedly. Unlike India, it was Sri Lanka’s bowling which struggled. Apart from pacer Nuwan Kulasekara, none of the other bowlers impressed. Tillakratne Dilshan took a huge gamble by taking both Ajantha Mendis and Dilhara Fernando.
Mendis has become too predictable now and Fernando is not much of use on slow pitches. So like Raina, it is Dilshan who will be under the pump, ahead of the clash against Zimbabwe next up.
His experience will be a must for his young team, to help beat a confident Zimbabwe team, who are constantly improving. If Sri Lanka get their act right in the next game, the points table will get interesting further. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Zimbabwe might even beat Sri Lanka convincingly, which means that in my book, they are the favourites to win!
No comments yet.