Don't let kids go alone to an adult fiesta!
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Don't let kids go alone to an adult fiesta!

Sri Lanka has hit the ground with a thud. Just when I was envisaging our team's return to form, India has crushed the uprising with a heavy hand, writes Arjuna Ranatunga.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2005 02:14 IST

Sri Lanka has hit the ground with a thud. Just when I was envisaging our team's return to form, India has crushed the uprising with a heavy hand. Frankly, Sri Lanka has not looked in the same league. Instead of assessing Lanka in its present mess, it would interest me more how the rising power of India would match up to the best in days to come. India is approaching basics as Australians do, that is, to attack at all costs. Aggression is being backed with good skills.

Presently, the Indians have managed to unnerve the Sri Lankans, made them blink. If they could do it to a Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, cricket as a sport will go a notch higher. Now even fielding does not look their soft spot. In months to come, India could bridge the gap even more rapidly. Greg Chappell has practically built alternative for every spot. Instead of 11, India now has 22 players to choose from. As I hear the names of VRV Singh and Piyush Chawla, it seems there is no let-up in experiments yet.

Interestingly, Australians are not doing the same. The nucleus of their side is still the same old faces. These men have been irrepressible gladiators but already in their 30s. If in two years time they lose their edge, Australia could have a problem on hand. The new faces we see in their side from time to time have not looked exceptional.

Still, I would have preferred if India had cushioned their fast bowling department better in the Rajkot game. Instead of both Rudra Pratap Singh and Sreesanth playing, I would have opted for one, buffering them with Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar. It can be dangerous if you bring a callow youth to an adults' fiesta, unattended. A mauling could scar him for life.

Not that I did not like the look of these two young men. For the second game running, RP Singh with his high arm action has managed lift from the most docile strips. He did it as first change in case you missed the point. Along with the high action, the positioning of his wrist has been critical as he continuously strives to hit the deck. He would not be a typical slithering left-arm pacer and that's a good deviation to have from a Irfan Pathan.

Sreesanth, I am told, is not the fastest in India and that's a surprise. He works up a tidy pace and despite being hit for a few fours in this game, is largely accurate. His bristling run-up helps in keeping a batsman honest. It's not easy to bowl with a 6-3 field, for there is simply no margin of error. It's doubly joyous for it has been done with aggression as if the handicaps of a batting pitch, restricted and lopsided field have not mattered.

Practically every game in this series has thrown up new heroes for India. Dhoni, Harbhajan, Pathan, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Dravid, Raina, Kartik, Agarkar have all strutted their stuff. In Rajkot, it was the turn of RP Singh, Yuvraj and Kaif. Yuvraj in this game was at his stylish best. If earlier he was coming down to spinners to lift them, he is now advancing and driving them and picking gaps at will.

Only the Sehwag puzzle has not been solved. This man has so much charm at the crease that even hard nuts like us are willing to ignore his run of poor scores. He is still smacking the bowlers and dismissing them as if in nets before something snaps in him in 30s and 40s. I wonder if it is concentration.

I suffered a similar malaise at one stage of my career as regular 30s and 40s were not converted. I came out of the trough by telling myself to concentrate harder in that spell. It was criminal to waste good starts and I did not want the hard work to go to seeds.

I am sure it is also hurting Sehwag. He has a unique quality that I had noticed in Kaluwitharana. They smacked fours without resorting to hitting the ball over the top. Most of their fours are grounded shots. It's a dangerous and rare quality for you are destructive without appearing too adventurous.


First Published: Nov 11, 2005 02:14 IST