India look to extend domination
A confident India will seek to maintain their winning streak when they take on Sri Lanka in the second cricket one-dayer in Colombo on Saturday.cricket Updated: Jan 31, 2009 06:27 IST
On a roll after notching a sixth consecutive ODI triumph, a confident India will seek to maintain their winning streak when they take on Sri Lanka in the second cricket one-dayer in Colombo on Saturday.
Even without explosive opener Virender Sehwag, who was nursing a lower back injury, the Indians were hardly pushed as they beat the Lankans by six wickets in the opening match on a tricky Dambulla pitch.
The much-touted Murali-Mendis combine failed to work for the Lankans, forcing skipper Mahela Jayawardene to admit that the duo's magic was somewhat on the wane.
However, the Indians would do well to remember the humiliation they were subjected to when the two teams squared up the last time around at the R Premadasa stadium.
Chasing a modest 227, the Indians were sent packing for 103 in under 27 overs with Mendis wrecking the visiting line-up with a four-wicket haul.
For the hosts, ageing war-horse Sanath Jayasuriya continues to be in good form but opener Tillakaratne Dilshan's lean patch and middle-order mainstay Kumar Sangakkara's inconsistent run with the bat have become a major concern.
Jayawardene, himself battling a batting slump, however, insists that one loss is not reason enough to press the panic button and his teammates would come back hard.
"The way we have been playing of late has changed and we will continue with that. I give credit to our guys because it was not an easy wicket but it probably slowed down later on and so was good to score runs," he said. Without a fifty in his last 13 one-day internationals, Jayawardene's return to form would be a prerequisite for Sri Lanka's prospects of squaring the series in tomorrow's day-nighter.
The other major difference between the two teams in Dambulla was the runs extracted from the power-plays. While the Indians milked 40, the Sri Lankans could muster only 28 and that too for the loss of two wickets.
Sri Lankan top order has not performed to expectations and opening partnerships have not been consistent.
Mutiah Murali and Ajantha Mendis were a shadow of their intimidating past when they bamboozled batsmen. At Dambulla, they conceded almost hundred runs for a solitary scalp.
Indians relished it but the Lankans were gritting their teeth in disappointment.
The lack of a good fast bowling option also ails Sri Lankan bowling which banks heavily on Murali and Mendis to provide the breakthroughs.
Nuwan Kulasekera has shown potential but there has hardly been any back up for him.
The Indians, however, have no such worries. Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan have become an intimidating pace combine, not just picking up wickets consistently but also keeping a check on the opposition scoring rate.
In the absence of Harbhajan Singh, who is nursing a hamstring injury, Pragyan Ojha is leading the spin department. He picked up a wicket in Dambulla but how well he would be able to fill in for his temperamental counterpart remains to be seen. With both batting and bowling working well for the Indians, Dhoni's men only have to guard against complacency in their bid to notch up a seventh successive one-day win.
As Dhoni put it after the Dambulla win, "It could have been better."
The Lankans, on the other hand, have to rediscover themselves to harbour hopes of preventing India from securing a second successive one-day series triumph in their own backyard.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh,
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jaywardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedera, Jehan Mubarak, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilina Kandamby, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thilina Thushara and Angelo Mathews.
Hours of play: 2.30 pm to 6 pm, 6.45 pm to 10.15 pm.