India have let the cat out of the bag
Sri Lanka now need a Jayasuriya, Vaas and Murali to leave an impact on the Indians, writes Arjuna Ranatunga.india Updated: Nov 07, 2005 15:05 IST
Three key men did not play for India. Sachin Tendulkar, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh have been half of your team in this series. It took the flexibility theory to dangerous terrain. To aim for eleven faceless men in team is alright but it was akin to pushing an automobile onto the road without gas. Besides, to us it appeared you were cocky.
On paper, India can defend these changes. Gautam Ghambir had a terrific century, Rudra Pratap Singh kicked up bounce on a docile surface with his high-arm action and Sreesanth is naturally accurate. But how do you measure psychology in sport? I believe Indians went into the game thinking only a 300-plus total could save them.
They were aware this was their lightest bowling attack in years and batsmen needed to cover up for them. It led to mad scramble of the final overs. Batsmen were rushed and you lost out on 20-25 extra runs.
As for Sri Lanka, they have now seen an opening. Batsmen, but for Sanath Jayasuriya, have found their feet. It could have a critical bearing when they return for Tests.
They surely want to go with a 4-3 scoreline. It's possible since India, I believe, would not abandon its experiments. If they do, they would look confused and weak. Besides, what do you tell these young men for resting them in the next match?
Gambhir for instance just cannot be put on the bench. When ushered into the party, he made sure he did not go unnoticed. He's explosive but that's besides the point. He knew the selectors could drop him to include Kaif for the final two games. He saw the booty and made a fistful of it. He would now get the final two games may be it's Virender Sehwag who can handle his one-day blues from the sidelines.
Ironically, India was still better than Sri Lanka in one respect and it was because of these youngsters. I have never seen a better Indian fielding side than the one we witnessed in Ahmedabad.
Just count the number of times your boys hit the stumps. Suresh Raina was just not swooping on the ball for effect he was also gathering it clean and throwing precise.
I know the difference for I have seen some really, really average Indian fielding sides. For sometime you had Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja, then Robin Singh. Last few years, Yuvraj Singh and Kaif have spanned the entire spectrum of your fielding prowess. Now you have this Generation Next.
I have also never seen a more disciplined Indian bowling attack than the one seen in this series. If Ajit Agarkar, with a reputation of being profligate, can be precise you need to doff your hat.
Both Sreesanth and RP Singh gave nothing away. They did not experiment and bowled on one side of the wicket. They tried to exert pressure from both ends and that's what bowling combinations should always strive for in this wonderful game. Cricket can be simple in its nuances but like all things simple, it doesn't come easy.
It's also time we start speaking for Rahul Dravid for the genial Indian skipper is modest to a fault. He gets less attention than say a Kevin Pieterson or a Brian Lara only because in the eye of the media, he is less flamboyant. But his has been a shining presence in the game and we need to acknowledge it everytime he scores a hundred like this one.
Such men are remarkable, who after a decade of cricket, do not lose even an ounce of passion. He has a maniac devotion to his craft but nearly always approaches it with humility. He has to be an inspiration in dressing room as he must be to thousands who flock Indian maidans.
Sri Lanka now need a Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Muthiah Muralitharan to leave an impact on the Indians. It would come handy in Tests next month. They are world class competitors and their countless fans back home are hoping their prayers are answered. It would also restore the imbalance between the two sides. India has let the cat out of the bag and I suspect it hasn't been a very bright move.
It sure is going to provide a stirring finish to the series.