After climbing to number one spot in the Test cricket, and enjoying a brief moment of euphoria, it’s time for the Indians to get back to work.
The players now have to hit an internal switch and make a dramatic shift in mindset, moving from whites and Tests to hype and Twenty20s. And they have their work cut out, as they have to set the record straight in this format where they currently languish in sixth spot in the rankings.
Recent results aren’t particularly reassuring. In 2009 the former world champions have a win-loss record of 3-5 in the eight matches they have played. Just six months ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brigade was dumped out of the Twenty20 World Cup after losing all the matches in the SuperEights stage. During the tournament the highly rated batting line-up failed to cope with English conditions and were done in by the short stuff.
On home wickets, however, the youthful Indian line-up can breathe a sigh of relief as there will be little help for the fast bowlers. Moreover, the Sri Lankan fast bowlers have struggled on the tour so far.
It will be interesting to see how Virender Sehwag, who tormented the visitors during the Test series, fairs in the shortest version. Over the years Sehwag has played sparkling knocks at the top of the order and has established himself as a dominant force in both ODIs and Test cricket.
But we are yet to see the best of him in Twenty20 cricket, a format which, on the face of it, is tailormade for his style of batting. With just one score of over 50 in his 12 appearances for the country, the Delhi dasher does not enjoy a good record in T20s. But given his reputation as a batsman who can change the course of the game single-handedly, he cannot be taken lightly in any format.
Gautam Gambhir, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh - India’s top three rungetters in T20s -- had a lean run with the bat during the Twenty20 World Cup and will look to make amends in the home series.
Harbajan Singh, the highest wickettaker in the shortest version, has been rested for both T20s matches. More often this year, besides striking with the ball, the turbanator has emerged as the king of the lower order. Quite literally he took India to victory single-handedly during the first ODI against Australia. Only time will only tell how India copes with Harbhajan’s absence.
Fielding is one aspect of the game Indians have to watch out for.
Poor fielding was one of the main reasons, which contributed to India’s disappointing performance in the recently held ICC Champions Trophy and the ODI series against Australia.
The Sri Lankans have also struggled in the shortest version losing their last four Twenty20 matches.