Daring Indian cricket team eyes Sri Lanka scalp in 2nd Test at Nagpur
Challenge for the visiting Sri Lanka will be to compete on all fronts against a better-balanced Indian cricket team in the 2nd Test at Nagpur.Updated: Nov 23, 2017 17:52 IST
To win at the highest level requires preparation and the courage to take bold decisions.
Even though the decision to dish out a green-top at Eden Gardens almost backfired, it showed the current Indian side is not content with easy wins over opponents at home and is willing to take risk in preparation of the next two-year cycle which will see them play in testing conditions abroad, starting with the tour of South Africa in January.
While it can be argued that India were only able to take the chance only because the opposition is a weak Sri Lanka team, but, there’s no denying that captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri tried to do something out of the box.
Normal traffic, however, should be restored in the second Test starting on Friday. The extra seaming and swinging conditions at Eden had reduced the gulf in quality between the two sides significantly. Here, it should be another dominating display by Virat Kohli’s men. Effort has been made to have a grass cover on the VCA ground’s playing surface but the Nagpur venue’s inherent quality of the soil is expected to provide typical subcontinental conditions. It means the spinners will come into play after the early help to pacers, and the team with better all-round balance should prevail. Sri Lanka don’t have the wherewithal to be as effective. But India have all bases covered.
For a spin-friendly surface, India have two world-class spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. And when it comes to batting, Indians are better equipped to tackle the turning ball.
Some experts doubted the batsmen’s ability to cope with the moving ball. But Kohli & Co’s display at Eden Gardens would have calmed the nerves. They crumbled against the pace bowlers in the first essay, but in the second dig, even when the ball was doing something, the batsmen handled them well.
There’s no panicking in this team. Even after Sri Lanka had taken a handy 100-plus lead in the first innings, the Indians maintained their composure. Kohli’s men are willing to fight hard. It was seen in how Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul took on the opening bowlers in the second dig, in the way Kohli took the attack to the Sri Lankans and in Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting half-century in the most trying conditions of the game.
One of the challenges facing India is to find replacements for two of their main performers at Kolkata, pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and opener Shikhar Dhawan. It is the measure of the team’s depth that the captain sees it only as a minor blow. Kohli’s confidence comes from having Ishant Sharma in place of Bhuvneshwar and Murali Vijay for Dhawan. Ishant has been bowling really well in the Ranji Trophy and has got wickets on surfaces that have not been really helpful.
Vijay, anyway, would have been the first-choice opener if he had not got injured. He will be the key batsman in South Africa because of his ability to judge the off-stump and leave the ball.
Champion teams snatch games from right under the nose of the opposition. India showed that quality in Kolkata before they ran out of time. In Nagpur, the weather is all clear and time will not be an issue. The challenge for Sri Lanka will be to compete on all fronts.
First Published: Nov 23, 2017 17:49 IST