There are defeats. And then there are abject surrenders. World T20 champions and winner of a Test series in England this year, Sri Lanka won’t be proud of Sunday’s tame 169-run defeat to India. All the pre-tour talk of Sri Lanka being grumpy about losing out on time to get fit for the World Cup somehow reflected in their game.
It was surprising to hear Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews being non-committal on Saturday about the level of intensity that could be expected from his team. Sunday showed why. Not only did they show very little innovation when Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan were going hammer and tongs, Lanka’s batting too looked insipid. Dew was the reason behind Sri Lanka opting to bowl. But by the time it had set in, Sri Lanka were five wickets down.
The scorecard will say India outclassed Sri Lanka. But those present at the Barabati stadium won’t be faulted for thinking Sri Lanka simply didn’t match the high standards they have set over the years. Fielding couldn’t have been sloppier with Kumar Sangakkara dropping both Rahane and Dhawan early and then Mathews summing up the show by flooring a skier by Axar Patel. And then their bowling showed Sri Lanka are half the side without Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath and even Ajantha Mendis. All this however doesn’t overrule the fact that India had a good game. Varun Aaron did break down once again with a quadriceps injury in his right leg but Ishant Sharma celebrated his return to ODIs with a best-ever haul of 4/34 and a disciplined line to write home about.
Rahane and Dhawan’s stand was a perfect blend of aggression. Dhawan might have led the way but Rahane showed he too can be equally imaginative when the situation demanded.
For the record though, Suresh Raina hit three sixes in a quickly crafted 34-ball 52 to make his 200th ODI memorable. He reached 5000 runs and ensured India’s run rate didn’t go south after the dismissal of the openers.
Barring Mahela Jayawardene’s 43, Sri Lanka didn’t fire at all but Mathews said it could be due to rustiness and the fact that India can be bowlers’ graveyard. All said and done though this series could well belong to the batsmen. And India would be happy knowing Sri Lanka’s bowling have little to bother them.