This is a new India, confident, brash and living for the moment — it has been in the making a few years now. But the short attention spans have an upside — the past doesn’t really matter.
As it was with India in this second Test against Sri Lanka here, where they posted a massive win, an innings and 144 runs, soon after struggling to save the last game at Ahmedabad.
When the day began, the question was whether India could wrap it up before lunch and post their biggest ever win. When they couldn’t do that, attention smoothly shifted to whether this would be the biggest win over their opponents.
That materialised, an hour after lunch, and, deed done, everyone was happy; Ahmedabad and the questions it raised about the team’s inconsistency, done and dusted.
For the record, Sri Lanka as good as surrendered.
“When you bat badly in the first innings, there is no motivation left for the second,” India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the game.
It showed on the field on Friday. Angelo Mathews attempting a pull off a Zaheer Khan delivery outside off and simply popping it up to offer a simple catch to Rahul Dravid.
With him gone, Thilan Samaraweera had just Prasanna Jayawardene to bat alongside and the two played for time. Prasanna, who stayed an hour for his 29, was bowled through the gate when Harbhajan tossed one up. With him went Sri Lanka’s faint hopes of a miracle.
India, though, ran into a stubborn tail. Samaraweera, who chugged on, didn’t mind giving the strike to tailenders, who threw all they had at the Indian bowlers.
But whether the Sri Lankans took any satisfaction from flickering before being blown out is anybody’s guess.
Still, Muralitharan’s 29, which saw him gleefully bash Harbhajan around a bit, helped his team to 175 and avert the ignominy of being India’s most wretched victim. Still, the Indians only laughed and finally, Pragyan Ojha got his man. Samaraweera continued with Ajantha Mendis and that possibly, was the only intriguing passage of play on the day, forcing Dhoni to think out of the box and experiment.
The mystery spinner stayed an hour and a half for his 27. It was inconsequential in terms of the result but an abject lesson for Lanka’s more accomplished batsmen, who had given the game away without a fight.
This, incidentally, was India’s 100th Test win. India cannot lose the series from here, but if they want to get to top of the ICC Test rankings and end the year as the world’s No. 1 Test team, they need to win again in Mumbai next week. History, sometimes, does matter.
India 1st innings: 642
Sri Lanka 1st inn: 229
Sri Lanka 2nd inn (overnight 57/4)
Paranavitana lbw b Sehwag 20
Dilshan c Dhoni b Sreesanth 11
Sangakkara b Harbhajan 11
M Jayawardene run out 10
Samaraweera not out 78
Mathews c Dravid b Zaheer 15
P Jayawardene b Harbhajan 29
Herath lbw b Harbhajan 13
Muralitharan b Ojha 29
Mendis lbw b Yuvraj 27
Welegedara & b Ojha 4
Extras: (b-7, lb-1, nb-14) 22
(all out in 65.3 overs) 269
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-37, 3-54, 4-54, 5-79, 6-140, 7-154, 8-191, 9-264, 10-269.
Bowling: Zaheer 11-0-63-1, Sreesanth 11-4-47-1, Harbhajan 22-2-98-3, Sehwag 3-0-4-1, Ojha 15.3-4-36-2, Tendulkar 1-0-6-0, Yuvraj 2-0-7-1.
Player of the match: Sreesanth