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Missing Viru was a blow

cricket Updated: Aug 19, 2008 00:00 IST
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India were a poor mismatch to Sri Lanka in the first ODI. The batting came apart from the seams and bowlers and fielders then went through their motions. A fair bit of work needs to be done if the rest of the matches are to be swung their way.

Indians are no closer to solving the Ajantha Mendis puzzle. All the homework and feedback from the seniors haven’t moved the batsmen an inch from the starting blocks. Worse, so intense has been the focus in demystifying the young spinner that the sight perhaps was taken off the Sri Lankan medium-pacers. They worked up a fair bit of steam and had Indians on the ropes before the spin duo of Mendis and Murali returned to do what they know best.

Indians will be hurt by their batting performance as nobody reached 25 and but for tailenders’s plucky resistance, the end nigh well have arrived before the 46th over. The best stand of the innings was of 37 runs between Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh. The absence of Virender Sehwag was a blow and if what I hear is true, the team must brace themselves for another blow. He couldn’t have twisted his ankle at a worse time.

Mendis’s opening over was an indication of things to come. There were a couple of appeals off the first two balls, a six off the next before Yuvraj Singh was cleaned up by the fourth. His accuracy and variety means that unless the Indians are playing him on a track as flat as a carrom board he will be a huge threat - Mendis had four maidens out of his nine overs and Murali two.

It’s unfair to pick on the bowlers who never had the runs to push the Lankans on the backfoot. Munaf Patel marked his return with an impressive performance but it was too little, too late. The rest didn’t have the striking ability of Sri Lankan spinners to put on the brakes.

India need to have a good start in the second game. It’s a recipe for disaster if Sri Lankan spinners come on to bowl with three or four batsmen already back in the hut. Very few teams can survive the calamity of early losses and yet hope to have the winning edge.