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Sri Lanka’s spineless show vs India leaves players, Board with mountain to climb

Sri Lanka’s 3-0 loss to India highlights the need for wholesale reform if the islanders want to be a force in world cricket.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 15, 2017 10:02 IST
Sidharth Gulati
Sidharth Gulati
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sri Lanka national cricket team,India national cricket team,India vs Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka need a massive overhaul if they are to remain a force in world cricket. (AFP)

The Test series win against Australia last year could have ushered in a new era. The losses to South Africa could’ve been due to lack of experience. The Test loss to Bangladesh could’ve been due to fatigue.

But the alarm bells were ringing when the Angelo Mathews-led Sri Lanka were beaten by the unfancied Scotland just ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka’s misery continued during the tournament when they lost to eventual champions Pakistan from a winning position.

This wasn’t all as Sri Lanka, so strong at home, couldn’t stop Zimbabwe from registering their first-ever ODI series win overseas. Prior to this, Zimbabwe had never beaten Sri Lanka in an ODI in their backyard.

READ | Apologetic Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal dubs loss to India ‘worst series ever’

Now, Virat Kohli’s men have rubbed salt into Sri Lanka’s wounds with a 3-0 Test series thrashing. Agreed Rangana Herath, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal suffered injuries, and skipper Dinesh Chandimal missed the first Test due to illness, but the will to fight was only seen during the second innings of the Colombo Test, when Dimuth Karunaratne’s and Kusal Mendis’ 191-run stand – after being asked to follow-on – briefly revived hopes of a fightback.

‘Ranji team can beat this side’

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar didn’t mince words when he said Test was a ‘lofty’ word to use for the lopsided series.

“To be frank, you can’t call this a Test match. The Indian team hasn’t been tested at all,” Gavaskar said in the post-match discussion.

“A Ranji team in the elite status can beat this Sri Lankan side.”

READ | India sweep Sri Lanka 3-0, complete historic away series win: Video highlights

The current state of Sri Lankan cricket is such that it won’t be surprising if experts are dismissive.

Having a bad day or a bad game is one thing but when a top team starts losing to lower-ranked sides, and its batsmen and bowlers show no inclination to fight as seen in the India series, something is seriously wrong.

‘All about poor administration’

Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has expressed anger at how the island’s cricket is administered and said he has stopped watching the team’s international fixtures.

“Sri Lanka cricket and the manner in which it is being administered is so disgusting I don’t watch our national cricket team anymore,” Ranatunga said.

A year ago, Angelo Mathews has demanded improvement in the Sri Lankan cricket system. He had even termed some of the team’s performances as ‘humiliating’.

READ | Virat Kohli and Co. make history with first ever overseas whitewash Test series victory

“The coaches at the back-end have a big job to do,” he said. “If we don’t have bowlers, we have to know how to produce them.”

There will be introspection in the Sri Lanka dressing room after the loss to India, but drastic changes may be beyond the Board. However, that is what Sri Lankan cricket fans will be rooting for.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 08:45 IST