Glorious opportunity for WC probables
The Indian batting line-up does look settled, but Sri Lanka too have batsmen who can counter India's fire by fire, writes Atul Sondhi.Updated: Feb 08, 2007, 23:28 IST
It was an unbelievable scoreline of 6-1. What a mauling the dashers from Sri Lanka had received. The one that started an Indian resurgence, which lasted a good six months.
From October 25, 2005 at Nagpur to Nov 12 at Vadodara - India had Lanka on the mat in each and every encounter, save the one at Ahmedabad.
Had they chosen not to rest Tendulkar, Harbhajan and Irfan from that match - probably India would have had even more memorable 7-0 whitewash.
Naturally, the hosts will be pumped up for one more chance at glory. A 3-1 or 4-0 scoreline will set them well for a crack at the World Cup in West Indies.
As of now, the batting line-up does look settled, but Sri Lanka too have batsmen who can counter India's fire by fire.
In fact, in the last ODI series in India, out of the 18 fifty plus scores made by the two sides, Sri Lanka had finished with a creditable eight. So difference in terms of goods starts was not much perceptible.
But what distinguished the Indian batting from the Lankan effort was the fact that Indian bowling was able to curtail Lankan batsmen's innings much earlier as compared to somewhat lackluster efforts of their Lankan counterparts in getting rid of Indian batters.
India vs Sri Lanka batsmen
(2005 ODI series in India)
|Scores||India batsmen||Lanka batsmen|
While only three out of eight Sri Lanka batsmen proceeded to convert their half-centuries into 75+ scores, as many as eight out of ten Indian batsmen achieved this distinction. That precisely turned out to be the difference between a massive victory and a crushing defeat.
Bowling economy (Runs per over) become absolutely critical when one is playing a team of the caliber of Sri Lanka. If we take at least six overs bowled in an innings in 2005 series, none of the Sri Lankan bowlers, including great Muralitharan, enjoyed an economy of less than 3.5 in any match!
(At least six overs bowled)
|Economy||India bowlers||Lanka bowlers|
|3.50 or less||6||0|
|3.51 to 3.99||3||2|
Muralitharan was the only Lanka bowler to have got into this distinctive list of sub four economy, while as many as five India bowlers -- Harbhajan, Pathan, RP, J P Yadav and Agarkar got it spot on in terms of economy.
Harbhajan was the pick of the India bowlers with an economy of under four in each of the first four matches at Nagpur, Mohali, Jaipur and Pune. His most memorable spell being 2 for 19 in 6.4 overs at his home ground Mohali. Truly an effort, which helped India wrap up the series with three games to spare!
So, if he can rediscover that form, turbunator will have grabbed the golden chance to once again re-establish himself as India's first choice spinner as in the Last World Cup.
In terms of sheer firepower, Indian pacers were simply mind boggling in the last series. Five times they took three or more wickets compared to just once by Sri Lanka - Mahroof's four for 20 at Ahmedabad, helping Sri Lanka to their sole success in the series.
3+ Wickets in 2005
(India vs Sri Lanka ODI series)
Agarkar's five for 44 at Pune in 4th ODI, RP's four for 35 in the 6th ODI at Rajkot, and Pathan's four for 37 at Mohali in second ODI were standout performances from the Indians.
Irfan, who had two 3+ hauls in the last series, will be especially eager to showcase his newfound swing as the battle for the bowling world cup slots enters it last phase.
For the lad from Vadodara, there will be lot more at stake than just pride. Ditto for few other Indian bowlers.