At long last, the Indian team will be at full strength when the first Test against the Sri Lankans gets underway. The team management will have welcomed Zaheer Khan warmly, for he is a bowler for all conditions.
The Sri Lankans, for their part, will be on a mission. They haven't won a Test in India and they desperately want to change that. Their preparation though has not been ideal. These days you have just one warm-up game and when that too gets washed out, you tend to feel underdone.
Touring teams normally tend to finalise their bowling combinations by trying out different things at the warm-ups and denied that opportunity, Sri Lanka will find it difficult to decide on who gets to play.
Also, a large number of their players are touring India for the first time and they would have liked at least one match under their belt before the Tests. As it is, they have an inexperienced pace attack with Chaminda Vaas no longer around. It will be up to Nuwan Kulasekara to show the way.
Their spin department is much better off and naturally Murali will be the key. Ajantha Mendis will find that things are quite different in India and that his T20 experience may not be of much use in Tests. But I like the way Herath has stepped up whenever Murali has been absent.
The Indians too will be thinking about their combination. With so little time between series some quick thinking would have been done even as the ODIs were on. Yes, usually the planning for the next series is done only after the current one has been completed, but surely the Indians would have devoted some time to the Tests while they were engaging the Aussies.
Whether they did or not, they most certainly missed one trick. With the series having been decided at Guwahati on November 8, they should have put Ishant Sharma on the next flight to Delhi to play the Ranji tie against Karnataka. It may not have been ideal for my home state but, on a pace friendly strip, Ishant could have sent down some long spells and probably bagged a confidence-boosting three or five-wicket haul.
To stick to the pacers, the recall of Sreesanth was a little surprising. His only domestic performance of note has been a three-wicket burst in the Irani Trophy.
He's definitely a talented guy but he's had his problems with attitude and been in the news for all the wrong reasons. I am sure the team management would have made it clear to him that he would have to mend his ways. In a team game, it is not just about talent, it's also about team ethics and values.
Sreesanth needn't look too far for the perfect combination of all that. The last week has been about celebrating Sachin Tendulkar and he owes his success to not just the tremendous talent he possesses but also his remarkable ability to focus on the job at hand. Knowing him, he will not have been distracted one bit over what's been going on and instead would have trained his mind on getting the Test series off to a good start both for himself and the team with a solid innings from that big bat of his.