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Seeking perfection

The spin department in the absence of Harbhajan Singh is a touch shaky as Pragyan Ojha did not have an exceptional match on Wednesday, reports Nilankur Das.

cricket Updated: Jan 30, 2009 22:31 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times

Analysing mistakes even after a win are signs of a team looking to rule the world. And if Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men are to achieve that, it can be assumed the Indian think tank has laid the problem areas on the dissection table before going into Saturday’s second ODI at the Premadasa Stadium.

In the last match, the fielding did look slack at times and the heat and humidity had slowed them down rather quickly. After losing Sachin Tendulkar early, both Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina were lucky in building the partnership.

The hopeless misunderstanding between Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina that resulted in the latter’s dismissal too could have given the Sri Lankans a look into the match when Dhoni came in and took over the reins.

The spin department in the absence of Harbhajan Singh is a touch shaky as Pragyan Ojha did not have an exceptional match on Wednesday. The part-time bowlers — Raina, Rohit Sharma and to some extent Yusuf Pathan — used tactfully by Dhoni were not given the charge and that is a problem Sri Lanka have to address. Having said that India would look forward to the return of Virender Sehwag to open with Gambhir. His off-spinners would surely strengthen the part-time bowling department. But it would mean Sharma, who had a decent show in the first match, would have to sit out.

The hosts would have their eyes on Muttiah Muralitharan, who needs one more to equal Wasim Akram’s record of maximum wickets in ODIs. But again if the slowness of the practice wickets and the deftness and patience with which Indian batsmen have tackled him and Ajantha Mendis off the pitch are indications, then the wait for him to achieve the milestone might just be prolonged.

This would be the first of the three day-night matches in the series and obviously that would make the toss crucial. Premadasa has a history of assisting seamers once the lights come on. Surprisingly, even Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene seemed a little skeptical about how the conditions are going to be like. "After getting foxed in Dambulla, I don't really know what to expect from the wicket here. Actually, it's a different time of the year that a series is happening here and that has got all the calculations wrong," he said.

Sri Lanka would want to square the series straight away and would want to pull up their socks before things go beyond them. They have shown character and come back to clinch their away series in Pakistan and the camp looked confident. But with a full-strength side at Dhoni's disposal, it would be tough more so as with Jayawardene going through a lean patch the Sri Lanka middle-order has looked vulnerable.

First Published: Jan 30, 2009 22:28 IST