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Indians set their eyes on final berth

The tri-series heads into the last two matches before Wednesday’s final. Sri Lanka, having won all three matches, are already through. India now have two matches in two days, the first against Sri Lanka on Sunday and then against Bangladesh.

cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2010 01:28 IST
Nilankur Das

The tri-series heads into the last two matches before Wednesday’s final. Sri Lanka, having won all three matches, are already through. India now have two matches in two days, the first against Sri Lanka on Sunday and then against Bangladesh. They need to win one of the two to seal their final berth and, going by for, that should not be a matter of concern for MS Dhoni.

What could be is the fact that T Dilshan is likely to return for Sunday’s match. A groin injury sustained while scoring a hundred against Bangladesh in the series opener had kept him out of action.

Also, Mahela Jayawardene, who was going through a bad patch during their tour of India and then got injured at Eden, is back and scoring an unbeaten ton on Friday coming in as an opener sent out a strong signal. “I don’t like a situation where my place in the XI is taken for granted. I am proud of my cap and I want to justify it,” the former skipper said after Friday’s win.

Another factor that Dhoni could be wary of is the clinical performance of the Sri Lankan bowlers in the series as against the wayward bowling by the Indians. Fielding and catching too remain a matter of concern. Even then, only the youngsters were seen slogging it out during an extended fielding session on Saturday morning.

The rest of the team joined later. Coach Gary Kirsten had an exclusive catching session with Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra and Sudip Tyagi though and then spoke at length to Harbhajan and Nehra emphasising the importance of drawing the hands close to the body while taking a catch. Virender Sehwag skipped Saturday’s optional training session.

The dew factor has made contests uneven. Bowling has been a problem in the evening with spinners finding it difficult to grip the ball and the wet ball not helping seamers either. As a result, the quality of cricket has suffered. The crowds too have stayed away, rejecting even the home team’s matches thereby taking sheen out of the atmosphere.

It would be easy for India to drop guard against Sri Lanka and pick on Bangladesh. But in the past even India have broken a seven-match ODI series into two parts to keep the intensity going even after the series getting decided. Here they could consider this as a three-match series against Sri Lanka, if one takes it for granted that India will make it to the final.

India will be playing Sri Lanka in a series for a third time in 13 months, and has won the two that have gone by. But strangely, a new-look side under Kumar Sangakkara has looked the most convincing of the three teams.