India’s reign at the top of the rankings was a short-lived one but having savoured the feeling of being the number one, the team will hopefully be striving to be there for longer.
It is never easy to play back-to-back games and if both teams have already qualified for the finals then the round robin fixture is more of an exercise in establishing a psychological upper hand and a bit of a loosener than anything else.
That said the manner of India’s defeat would weigh heavily on their minds as they go into the final, looking not only for revenge but also to win the trophy.
The main problem for India is the lack of a good start to the innings. In the absence of Sehwag and Gambhir, the Indians have struggled to get off to the rocking start that the duo used to give to the team.
Explosive starts with bat or ball put enormous pressure on the opposition and upset their plans. The old warhorse Jayasuriya showed that there is still lot of fire in his belly and it was his stroke-play that took the game away from India. If India thought that they had it in some control in the middle overs it was another left-hander Kandamby who hit the big shots and took Sri Lanka to a total that was too much to chase.
What was clear is that the Indians have still not found a way to bowl to left-handers. This is not a new shortcoming but has been so almost since India became a Test nation. What was disappointing was the manner in which India’s fielding floundered under the assault by the two left-handers. It is here that India need to improve for that will be the key to
get to the No.1 ranking in Test as well as the one-day game.
A run saved is a run scored especially in limited overs cricket and with a day’s rest India will hopefully come back fresher and eager to set the record right. It is here that the induction of Virat Kohli will help for he is an outstanding fielder and can lift the team with that. For some strange reason Yuvraj, India’s best fielder is not standing at ‘Jonty’s corner’ where all the best fielders in the team stand and a few stops there can frustrate the batsmen, who are at the moment getting runs relatively easy at that position.
Kohli opened the batting for India last year in Lanka so he is not unfamiliar with the spot and as a youngster wanting to establish himself in the team he will bat anywhere as long as he gets a game. It is a chance worth taking since Karthik hasn’t done anything special and the wonderful a team man that he is, even he will agree that Kohli is a better fielder than him.
It is not going to be easy for the Lankans will be full of confidence after their big win but this is where the real mettle will be seen whether India have it in them to be number one for a long period or whether it will remain only a dream.