Why ‘Mad Max’ Aravinda de Silva is in awe of the Indian cricket team | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Why ‘Mad Max’ Aravinda de Silva is in awe of the Indian cricket team

Aravinda de Silva, who smashed a century in the 1996 final against Australia to give Sri Lanka their first World Cup, says the current Indian cricket team is a complete package compared to past sides.

cricket Updated: Mar 05, 2018 11:33 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Colombo
Indian cricket team,Aravinda de Silva,India vs Sri Lanka
Aravinda de Silva played cricket for Sri Lanka from 1984 to 2003.(HT Photo)

Sri Lanka’s recent struggles against India have been painful for their fans. With series losses of 0-5, 0-5 and 1-2, memories of the 1996 World Cup winning side that beat India on a regular basis are fading away.

Several players played key roles in Sri Lanka’s glory run at that time. Sanath Jayasuriya’s aggression, Arjuna Ranatunga’s pro-active captaincy, Aravinda de Silva’s brilliance and Muttiah Muralitharan’s spin bowling. De Silva, one of Sri Lanka’s finest batsmen, hurt India on several occasions. His 66 off 47 balls in the 1996 World Cup semi-final at the Eden Gardens stands out while scores of 52 not out and 104 helped Sri Lanka to their first 3-0 whitewash over India in ODIs.

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In a chat, de Silva said the current Indian team, under Virat Kohli, is a complete unit compared to the sides he faced.

“The key difference in this side is bowlers. India’s batting was always powerful and high on experience but they have developed bowlers who can take wickets in all conditions. This was one factor lacking in the team of the mid 90s whom I played against.”

Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have formed the bowling core of the Indian side in limited-overs cricket and have been instrumental in the team going unbeaten in a series since 2016.

De Silva said India are utilising the bowlers well. “When wickets are flatter and slower, they have the two wrist-spinners (Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav) at their disposal. They have pacers who can touch 90 mph on a regular basis. This variety makes a big difference,” de Silva said.

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Inconsistent selection

Sri Lanka cricket has endured a disastrous couple of seasons with the low point coming in 2017 with an ODI series loss for the first time against Zimbabwe. The period witnessed the change of skipper thrice.

“The current side is still young. We lack consistent selection, when it comes to players or captains. This does not give confidence to the side which is under transition,” de Silva said.

Passion for cars

De Silva, who retired from international cricket in 2003, finished with 6361 runs at an average of 42.97 in 93 Tests and 9240 runs at 34.9 in 308 ODIs. After retirement, he chose the Sri Lanka squad for the 2011 World Cup and was chairman of the SLC cricket committee for 13 months before stepping down in 2017. After cricket, de Silva followed his other passion – cars. The 52-year-old is Deputy Chairman of Ideal Automobiles in Sri Lanka.

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“I have been fascinated by cars and it has been my passion since childhood. I guess when you pursue it, you get an opportunity later in life to showcase it,” he said.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 09:50 IST