So prolonged was India’s tour of Sri Lanka, which ended on a sore note, that events like S Sreesanth’s return to training before the Test series (he was forced out by injury) and Muttiah Muralitharan’s adieu to Tests seem to have occurred in another era.
No wonder, India left the Emerald Isles soon after Saturday night’s tri-series final.
To be fair, India couldn’t have fared better than they did. With a spineless bowling attack, the visitors did well to level the Test series.
Dhoni’s boys will be happy at avoiding relegation in the league stage of the tri-series. This was despite missing Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. Riding on two huge victories, India advanced to the final despite being bundled out for 88 and 103, two of their worst losses ever.
What the last three weeks of the tour exposed was the youngsters’ inability to step into the big shoes of the seniors. While Sehwag scored 268 runs in five innings and Dhoni scored 140, the other six specialists — Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja managed a combined tally of 275 runs in 25 innings.
Even though Dhoni reiterated that too much should not be read into the youngsters’ performance in Dambulla, due to the bowler-friendly conditions, the skipper admitted it was time youngsters like Rohit, Kohli and Karthik learnt the importance of respecting the conditions and bowlers.
“We have learnt the importance of partnerships. Rather individuals scoring runs, if you get two to three 50-run partnerships, it helps the team immensely,” Dhoni said at the end of the tournament. “They should also learn how to respect bowlers under the conditions. If conditions are in favour of the bowlers, you should respect them for the first 15 overs.”
Though India’s World Cup build-up is yet to strike a perfect note, one hopes the showing in the tri-series will force the team management and selectors to try out other fringe players like Saurabh Tiwary and R Ashwin during the one-dayers against Australia.