While Saturday’s loss was statistically India’s worst, in terms of runs, against Sri Lanka in the little island, both teams will know this is not necessarily an accurate indicator of what is to come.
While it is never easy to bounce back after a heavy defeat, India’s losses in Sri Lanka over the last two tours have tended to be comprehensive.
The good news is, between these losses, India have racked up an impressive 7-3 win-loss record over the last 10 games (not counting the most recent).
As teams touring Sri Lanka have found, it’s next to impossible to be this dominant against the home side. New Zealand were recently dispatched with ease, Pakistan collapsed so spectacularly, even their opponents were left dazed.
If anything, India’s recent one-day international record in Sri Lanka is something to be proud of.
If resilience has been one of the cornerstones of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s vision for this team, constantly challenging the norm has been the other.
Though Dhoni conceded that the toss would play a big part, perhaps it is time to focus thoughts elsewhere, as Kumar Sangakkara suggested. “We know the toss plays a role, but unfortunately you can’t control this. But then what are we going to do about it?” asked Sangakkara. “Are you going to think about the toss rather than how you are going to win a game? You need to get the attitude right. We know what the reality is and we need to fight harder and harder to try and change the trends.”
Sri Lanka, as much as visiting teams, have struggled when batting second at the Premadasa, and are faced with a tough decision ahead of the final.
Should they risk playing the duo of batsman Thilan Samaraweera (hamstring injury) and spinner Muttiah Muralitharan (groin)?
“Everytime an important player is injured and comes back it strengthens the side,” said Sangakkara.
“But we also have to keep in mind we have an important Champions Trophy coming up and we don’t want to rush them.”
The advantage the home side have is the balance in the team. The one worry was the performance of the batsmen, but this too is looking up.
“The middle order just started clicking and it needs to keep going. More importantly Sanath [Jayasuriya] has got going and this helps us balance the side out nicely.”
Just how things pan out on Monday will determine which team can afford to keep the faith with its set order, and which needs to shake things up.