Not long ago, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in a scathing criticism of his bowlers, had said how long would India rely on batsmen to win matches.
A week after this, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that former South Africa coach Eric Simons would join the squad as bowling consultant ahead of the two-Test series. And ever since, it’s the bowlers who have delivered the goods.
Twice in the two matches leading to the final, India bowled first against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and on both occasions had half the batting line-up back in the dressing room much before the 25-over mark. In the final too, the bowlers almost made a match out of a modest chase.
The dew wasn’t much of a factor on Wednesday evening and the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium wicket had something in it for the spinners in the second session.
But unlike against Bangladesh in their second match of the series — when the hosts hammered India to all corners — the likes of Zaheer Khan and S. Sreesanth bowled a tight line. Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja had the Sri Lanka batsmen in trouble quite often and what appeared to be a cakewalk for Kumar Sangakkara’s boys was actually a hard-fought win.
It was a pity that Ashish Nehra got injured in his second over after picking up a wicket. And though Dhoni pointed it out as the turning point in the final, the fact is, it was India’s mindless shot-selection that cost them the title. India had lost the match in the first 15 overs.
Dhoni acknowledged that his bowlers’ return to form was the biggest gain of the tri-series and that it would hold them in good stead against hosts Bangladesh in the Tests.
“Virat (Kohli) and the youngsters have performed well when given a chance. But Virat has been exceptional. (Ravindra) Jadeja too has been doing a good job and fits into the composition well,” Dhoni said.
But for a team leading the Test rankings, their batting, considered the best in the world, has been found hopelessly wanting.